Philippians 2:16
(16) Holding forth the word of life.--This translation seems correct, and the reference is to the comparison above. There may, indeed, be (as has been supposed) a reference, involving a change of metaphor, to the holding forth of a torch, for guidance, or for transmission, as in the celebrated torch race of ancient times. But this supposed change of metaphor is unnecessary. The "luminaries" hold forth their light to men, and that light is the "word of life." Note the same connection in John 1:4, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men."

The word of life.--The phrase "the word of life" is remarkable. Here it signifies, of course, the gospel of Christ. But the gradual progress of this expression should be noted. Of Him His disciples declared that He "has the words" (i.e., the expressed words; see Note on Ephesians 6:17) "of eternal life" (John 6:68); He Himself goes further, and declares that His words are themselves spirit and life (John 6:63); here the gospel, as giving that knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ which is "eternal life" (John 17:3), is a "word of life;" and all these lead up to the final declaration that He Himself is "the Word of life" (1John 1:1).

Run in vain, neither laboured in vain.--St. Paul's usual metaphor includes the "race" and the "struggle" of wrestling or boxing (as in 1Corinthians 9:24-26; 2Timothy 4:7). In Galatians 2:2 he speaks only of the "running in vain." Here, perhaps, the more general word "labour" (united in Colossians 1:29 with the word "struggling") may be taken to express at any rate that element of endurance and watchfulness which the struggle in the arena represents.

Verse 16. - Holding forth the word of life. Holding out to others. Meyer translates "possessing," and others, as Bengel, "holding fast. This clause should be taken with the first clause of Ver. 15, "That ye may be blameless," etc., he the words, "among whom," etc.. he being parenthetical. That I may rejoice in the day of Christ; literally, for matter of boasting to me against the day of Christ. He boasts or glories in their salvation. "The day of Christ," says Bishop Lightfoot, "is a phrase peculiar to this Epistle, more commonly it is ' the day of the Lord.'" That I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain; translate, did not. The verbs me aorist. He looks back upon his finished course (comp. Galatians 2:2).

2:12-18 We must be diligent in the use of all the means which lead to our salvation, persevering therein to the end. With great care, lest, with all our advantages, we should come short. Work out your salvation, for it is God who worketh in you. This encourages us to do our utmost, because our labour shall not be in vain: we must still depend on the grace of God. The working of God's grace in us, is to quicken and engage our endeavours. God's good-will to us, is the cause of his good work in us. Do your duty without murmurings. Do it, and do not find fault with it. Mind your work, and do not quarrel with it. By peaceableness; give no just occasion of offence. The children of God should differ from the sons of men. The more perverse others are, the more careful we should be to keep ourselves blameless and harmless. The doctrine and example of consistent believers will enlighten others, and direct their way to Christ and holiness, even as the light-house warns mariners to avoid rocks, and directs their course into the harbour. Let us try thus to shine. The gospel is the word of life, it makes known to us eternal life through Jesus Christ. Running, denotes earnestness and vigour, continual pressing forward; labouring, denotes constancy, and close application. It is the will of God that believers should be much in rejoicing; and those who are so happy as to have good ministers, have great reason to rejoice with them.Holding forth the word of life,.... By which may be meant, either Christ the essential Word, in whom life was, and is, and who is called the quick or living Word, John 1:1; and here may be styled the Word of life, because he has all life in him; he has a divine life in him, as God, he is the living God; and it is given to him to have life in himself, as Mediator, for all his people; and he ever lives as man to make intercession for them: and because he is the author of life in every sense, of natural life to all men, of spiritual and eternal life to as many as the Father has given him: or else the Gospel is intended, and the doctrines of it; and which are sometimes called the words of eternal life, and of this life, John 6:68; and that because they are a means of quickening dead sinners, they are a savour of life unto life, 2 Corinthians 2:16, and the Spirit that giveth life, and of enlivening and comforting living saints; they treat of Christ who is the life; by the Gospel, life and immortality are brought to light; that gives an account of everlasting life; points out Christ as the way to it, shows that meetness for it lies in regenerating grace, and a right unto it is in the righteousness of Christ. Now this Word of life is held forth, partly by the preaching of it to a dark world, as by some; and partly by professing it publicly, as it should be by all who are enlightened with it; and also by living lives and conversations becoming and suitable to it,

That I may rejoice in the day of Christ. The apostle having observed the advantages that would accrue to themselves, and the benefit they might be of to the men of the world, by regarding the several exhortations he had given them, and which ends he mentions as reasons and arguments to enforce them, closes with taking notice of the use and service it would be to himself; it would give him joy and pleasure when Christ should come a second time to judge the world; and when dead in Christ would be raised, and set at his right hand, and these among the rest, to whom the apostle had been useful; and who continued to bear an honourable testimony in the world to Christ, and his Gospel, to the end:

that I have not run in vain, nor laboured in vain; being blessed with such converts under his ministry, as were a credit to religion, an honour to the Gospel, and a crown of rejoicing to him. He expresses his ministerial function, and the discharge of it, by running in a race, as the ministry of a person is sometimes called his course, Acts 13:25; in allusion to the Olympic games, which the apostle often refers to, when the conqueror obtained a crown; and it was enough for our apostle, and a crown of rejoicing to him, that his spiritual children walked in the truth, and as became it, to the end: and also by labour, and hard service, as the ministerial work is, when faithfully performed; and especially as his was, which was attended with so many difficulties, and yet with such constancy, diligence, and indefatigableness, all which was not in vain; and he could look back upon it with pleasure, when his followers stood fast in the faith, and adorned the doctrine of Christ.

Philippians 2:15
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