Philippians 2:1

(1-4) In this section the hint given above, in the allusion to "one spirit" and "one soul," is expanded into a direct exhortation to unity of spirit, as shown both by absence of self-assertion and by presence of a genial sympathy.

(1) If there be therefore any consolation . . .--In the four-fold division of this verse we trace, first, a reference to unity with Christ, and to a spiritual effect following from it; next, a similar reference to communion with the Holy Ghost, and a corresponding spiritual result. (1) "Consolation" is properly encouragement--the stirring up of spiritual activity--ascribed in Acts 9:31 to the action of the Holy Spirit, but here viewed as a practical manifestation of the life flowing from union with Christ. Out of it comes naturally the "comfort of love," that is, as always, the deep and thankful sense of comfort in His love, overflowing into comfort, lovingly given to our brethren. On this "encouragement" in Christ, both received and given out to others, St. Paul dwells at length (2Corinthians 1:3-7). (2) Next, he speaks of "communion of the Spirit" (the very word used in 2Corinthians 13:13), by which, indeed, we are brought into that unity with Christ; and of this, still keeping to the main idea of love, he makes the manifestation to be in "bowels and mercies"--that is, both in strong affection, and in that peculiar form of affection which is directed towards suffering, viz., compassion or pity. The whole passage (like Philippians 4:8-9) is full of a grave and persuasive eloquence characteristic of this Epistle. No absolute distinction is to be drawn between the two elements of the sentence; but it may be noted that the "consolation in Christ" is exhibited in the action which visibly follows His divine example, "the communion with the Holy Spirit" is shown by the inner emotion, not seen, but felt.

Verse 1. - If there be therefore, any consolation in Christ. Mark the fervor of the apostle. Ὅρα πῶς λιπαρῶς πῶς σφοδρῶς πῶς μετὰ συμπαωείας πολλῆς (Chrysostom). He appeals to the Christian experience of the Philippians; if these experiences are real, as they are; facts verified in the believer's consciousness; not talk, not mere forms of speech, - then fulfill ye my joy. Consolation; perhaps "exhortation" is the more suitable rendering in this place: if the presence of Christ, if communion with Christ, hath power to stir the heart, to stimulate the emotions, to constrain the will. If any comfort of love; comfort springing out of love. Love is the subjective result of the presence of Christ as an objective reality, and with love comes comfort (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:3 and 1 Thessalonians 2:11). If any fellowship of the Spirit. If the indwelling of the Holy Ghost be true, a felt reality in the Christian life. Not, as some understand, "If there be any fellowship of spirit among themselves." If any bowels and mercies. Bowels (see note on Philippians 1:8), the seat of the feelings of compassion; mercies, those feelings themselves. The pronoun "any," according to the reading of all the best manuscripts, is masculine singular; the word "bowels," being neuter plural εἴ τις σπλάγχνα If St. Paul really wrote thus, we must suppose that the warmth of his feelings suddenly led him to substitute σπλάγχνα for some other word originally in his thoughts. "Under any circumstances," says Bishop Lightfoot, "the reading εἴ τις is a valuable testimony to the scrupulous fidelity of the early transcribers, who copied the text as they found it, even when it contained readings so manifestly difficult."

2:1-4 Here are further exhortations to Christian duties; to like-mindedness and lowly-mindedness, according to the example of the Lord Jesus. Kindness is the law of Christ's kingdom, the lesson of his school, the livery of his family. Several motives to brotherly love are mentioned. If you expect or experience the benefit of God's compassions to yourselves, be compassionate one to another. It is the joy of ministers to see people like-minded. Christ came to humble us, let there not be among us a spirit of pride. We must be severe upon our own faults, and quick in observing our own defects, but ready to make favourable allowances for others. We must kindly care for others, but not be busy-bodies in other men's matters. Neither inward nor outward peace can be enjoyed, without lowliness of mind.If there be therefore any consolation in Christ,.... Or "exhortation", as the word is sometimes rendered; that is, either if there is any exhortation of Christ to love and unity, as there is in John 13:34, and this is of any weight and value; or if an exhortation hereunto made in the name of Christ, by any of his ministers, messengers, and ambassadors, will be regarded, as it ought to be, then fulfil ye my joy, &c. Philippians 2:2, but as the word is frequently translated "consolation", as it is here in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions; the sense may be either, if there is any comfort to be given to them that are in Christ Jesus, as every converted man is, and as the apostle was, and especially to them that are afflicted and persecuted for the sake of Christ, are prisoners in him, and on his account, which was the apostle's case, then he desired they would attend to his following request: or if there was any consolation for them, and they had had any comfort in and from Christ; as all true, solid, strong, and everlasting consolation is only in Christ, and is founded on the greatness of his person, as God our Saviour, on the fulness of his grace, the efficacy of his blood, the perfection of his righteousness and sacrifice, and on the great salvation he is the author of: agreeably the Syriac version renders it, "if therefore ye have any consolation in Christ"; and the Arabic version, "if therefore ye enjoy any consolation from the grace of Christ"; which is displayed in the Gospel, as undoubtedly they did; and since then all this comfort was enjoyed by them, through the Gospel the apostle preached to them, the argument from hence must be strong upon them, to attend to what he desired of them:

if any comfort of love; in it, or from it; as from the love of God the Father, which is everlasting and unchangeable, and must be comforting, when shed abroad in the heart by the Spirit; and from the love of the Son, which is the same, and equally immovable and lasting, and which passeth knowledge; and from the love of the Spirit, in applying the grace of the Father, and of the Son, whereby he becomes a glorifier of them, and a comforter of his people; and from the love of the saints to one another, which renders their communion with each other comfortable, pleasant, and delightful: or the apostle's sense is, if they had so much love for him, as to wish and desire he might be comforted in his present situation, and that they would be willing to make use of any methods to comfort him, then he desires this; and this is all he desires, mutual love, peace, harmony, and agreement among themselves:

if any fellowship of the spirit: of the spirit of one saint with another; if there is such a thing as an union of spirits, an oneness of souls, a tasting of each other's spirits, and a communion with one another, then care should be taken to keep this unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace, Ephesians 4:3, or if there is any fellowship of the Holy Spirit of God, any communion with him, any such thing as a witnessing of him to, and with our spirits, or as fellowship with the Father and the Son by him, and saints are baptized into one body by one Spirit, and have been made to drink of the same Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:13, then it becomes them to be of one mind, and to stand fast in one Spirit, Philippians 1:27,

if any bowels and mercies; as there are in God, and in the Lord Jesus Christ, moving towards the saints; or such as become Christians, who, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, ought to put on bowels of mercies to one another; express the most hearty, inward, tender, and compassionate concern for each other's welfare, temporal and spiritual. Thus the apostle premises the most moving and pathetic arguments, leading on to the exhortations and advice, to love, harmony, and unity, given in Philippians 2:2.

Philippians 1:30
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