Philippians 1:1 MEANING

Philippians 1:1
(1) Paul and Timotheus, (the) servants of Jesus Christ.--To the Philippian, as to the Thessalonian Church (see 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1), St. Paul does not think it needful to assert his apostleship; but writes, in a tone of affectionate and confident familiarity, as to those whom he could thoroughly trust. Here he and Timotheus are simply "servants" (not, as in our version, "the servants" in any position of special eminence) "of Jesus Christ"--a title of humility assumed by St. James and St. Jude (James 1:1; Jude 1:1), but nowhere else by St. Paul without the addition of some title of apostolic authority. (Comp. Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1.) Even in Galatians 1:10 he declares that he is "the servant of Christ," chiefly to show that he cannot and need not "please men." It is to be noted also that here, as again (with Silas) in the Thessalonian Epistles, Timotheus is joined with St. Paul almost on a footing of equality whereas in other Epistles (see 2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1), he is separated from the Apostle and distinguished as "Timotheus the brother." This is probably to be accounted for partly by the absence of all necessity for assertion of his own apostleship, partly also by the fact that (with Silas) Timotheus was St. Paul's fellow-worker in the conversion of the Macedonian Churches, and accordingly his chosen messenger to them from time to time (Acts 19:22; Acts 20:5).

The saints in Christ Jesus.--The same expression is used in the salutations which commence other Epistles of this period (see Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1): "the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus."

With the bishops and deacons.--In this passage the word "bishop" is, for the first time, used as a title, although in Acts 20:28 ("over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers") it is employed as a description of duty, with a distinct reference to its etymological meaning and origin. In the Pastoral Epistles we find it similarly used (as 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7). There is now no question--and but for supposed ecclesiastical necessities there never could have been any question--that in Holy Scripture, as also in the First Epistle of an Apostolical Father (St. Clement to the Corinthians, Php. 19), the two titles of "bishop" and "presbyter" are applied to the same persons--the latter, however, being in St. Paul's Epistles the more frequent and conventional term, while the former seems almost always used with reference to its actual meaning. The two titles are of diverse origin. The "presbyter," or "elder," is a Jewish title, so directly descended from the synagogue that the institution of the presbyterate is not, like that of the diaconate, recorded as a historical creation in the Church. The title of "bishop," or "overseer," is of heathen origin, used in classical Greek for a commissioner from head-quarters, applied in the LXX. to various secular offices (2 Kings 11:19; 2 Chronicles 24:12-17; Nehemiah 11:9; Nehemiah 11:14; Nehemiah 11:22; Isaiah 60:17). The former is simply a title of dignity, like the many derivations from the Latin senior which have passed into modern language. The latter is a title of official duty. Like the word "pastor" and "apostle," it belongs properly only to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the "Apostle of God" (Hebrews 3:1), and "the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls" (1 Peter 2:25); but derivatively to His ministers, as having the oversight of His Church. This is directly shown in the application of the title to the Ephesian presbyters (Acts 20:28; see also 1 Peter 5:1-2), and the idea of responsible oversight is brought out clearly in the description of the office of the "bishop "in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. The in-different use of the two names is made absolutely clear in Titus 1:5-7 : "Ordain elders in every city . . . if any be blameless . . . For a bishop must be blameless as a steward of God." It is only necessary to remark briefly that this identification of the two titles (of which St. Clement's Epistle is the last example) in no way weakens the significance of the undoubted historical fact of the development of what we call the Episcopate in the early part of the second century, and the overwhelming probability of its origination, under the sanction of St. John, when the representatives of the higher order of the Apostolate passed away.

The name "deacon" is also used for the first time, unless, indeed, as is probable, it is applied officially to Phoebe in Romans 16:1. Although the office of the Seven, in Acts 6:1-7, is undoubtedly the germ of the diaconate, and although the cognate words ("ministration" and "serve") are used in connection with them (see Philippians 1:1-2), yet the actual title of deacons is nowhere given to them.

This mention of the ministers as distinct from the Church in salutation is unique. It has been conjectured, with great probability, that in the Letter of the Philippian Church, which no doubt accompanied the mission of alms by Epaphroditus, the presbyters and deacons were so distinguished; as in the letter of the Council at Jerusalem, according to the ordinary reading of Acts 15:23 ("the apostles and elders and brethren"). Some ancient authorities held that Epaphroditus was "the apostle" (or what we should call the bishop) of the Church at Philippi, and that he is not named here simply because he was with St. Paul: so that in the Philippian Church the three orders were already represented. (But on this see Philippians 2:25.)

Verse 1. - Paul and Timotheus. St. Paul does not assume his official title in writing to the Macedonian Churches, Philippi and Thessalonica; it is used in all his other Epistles, except the short letter to Philemon. His relations to the Philippians and Thessalonians were those of the deepest personal affection; there was no need of a formal introduction, especially in an Epistle which has so little of an official character as this to the Philippians. He joins the name of Timothy with his own, as in 2 Corinthians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Thus Timothy is associated with St. Paul in every Epistle in which another name is found except 1 Corinthians, where Sosthenes only is mentioned; this shows the intimate affection that bound St. Paul to his "own son in the faith." There was a special reason for mentioning Timothy in this Epistle, as he was so well known to the Philippians, and St. Paul was intending (Philippians 2:19) to send him shortly to Philippi. But St. Paul writes in his own name from the beginning. Timothy was not in any sense a joint author; he may possibly have been St. Paul's amanuensis, as Tertius was in the case of the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:22). Possibly also motives of humility led St. Paul to insert other names besides his own; but it was not to support his teaching by additional authority - he was "an apostle, not of man, neither by man," and needed not the weight of other names. The servants of Jesus Christ; slaves, literally: "made free from sin and become servants [slaves] to God," whose service is perfect freedom. We belong to him: he he is our Master (κύριος δεσπότης) as well as Father, we are his slaves as well as his sons: "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price." Compare the words of the "damsel possessed with a spirit of divination" at Philippi: "These men are the servants [slaves] of the most high God." She felt the difference between her state and theirs; she was the slave of her Philip-plan masters, of the evil spirit too; St. Paul and his companion were the slaves of God most high. In the best manuscripts, as in the R.V., "Christ" is put before "Jesus" here. The apostle frequently sets the official before the personal name of our Lord; possibly because he knew not the Lord Jesus after the flesh, but saw him first as the Messiah, the Christ of God. To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi. The word "all" is of very frequent occurrence in this Epistle. There may possibly be a reference to the dissensions alluded to in ch. 4:2; or, as some think, to the supplies sent for St. Paul's assistance; he addresses all alike, not only those who contributed; he does not recognize their divisions. But it is, perhaps, only the natural expression of his warm affection: the apostle was beloved by all the Philippians, and all were dear to him; there was no hostile faction there, as at Corinth and else where. Compare the affectionate repetition, "always," "every," "all," in Ver. 4. St. Paul uses the word "saint" as the general name for his converts, like "Christian." The word "Christian" occurs only three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Christ's people are called "brethren," "disciples," or "saints." Thus St. Paul addresses the Corinthians generally as "saints," though many of them were far from possessing holiness of heart and life. The ancient Church was holy; the Israelites are called "a holy nation," "saints of the Most High." They were holy by God's election, his chosen people, separated unto him by the rite of circumcision. By the same election the Christian Church is holy, dedicated to God in baptism. This holiness of dedication (comp. 1 Corinthians 7:14) does not necessarily involve the actual existence of that inner holiness of heart "without which no man shall see the Lord." But it does imply the bounden duty of striving after that spiritual holiness. "Ye are the temple of the living God," St. Paul says to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 6:16). "for God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people... therefore... let us cleanse ourselves from el! filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." The Greek word ἅγιος (in our translation sometimes "holy," sometimes "saint") is the usual rendering for the Hebrew קָדושׁ. The primary idea of the Hebrew word seems to be that of separation - separation from all that defileth. God is "of purer eyes than to behold evil;" those who are dedicated to him must strive by his grace to purify themselves even as he is pure. "Be ye holy, for I am holy." In Christ Jesus. They are saints in virtue of their relation to Christ. They were once" baptized into one body" - the mystical body of Christ. Holiness of dedication can issue in holiness of heart and life only by abiding in him (comp. John 15:4-6). All saints are one body in Christ; they are knit together into one communion and fellowship by their personal union with the one Lord. With the bishops and deacons. In the New Testament the word ἐπίσκοπος is synonymous with πρεσβύτερος (comp. Acts 20:17; 1 Peter 5:1, 2; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Titus 1:5-7). St. Paul is addressing the elders of the Church at Philippi, not bishops in our sense of the word. It is possible that Epaphroditus may have been the presiding bishop of the Church (see notes on Philippians 2:25 and Philippians 4:3). If so, we see a reason why the second and third orders of the ministry only are mentioned, as Epaphroditus was the bearer of the Epistle. But diocesan episcopacy does not seem to have become general till the last quarter of the first century. We know that Paul and Barnabas "ordained elders in every Church" in their first missionary journey; we need not, therefore, be surprised at the mention of these official designations in this Epistle, which was written seventeen or eighteen years later. St. Paul's address to the elders of the Church at Ephesus shows the importance which he attached to the office and to the faithful performance of its duties. Perhaps "the bishops and deacons" are specially mentioned here as having collected. the contributions sent to St. Paul; so Chrysostom and Meyer. On the whole subject, see Bishop Lightfoot's exhaustive 'Dissertation on the Christian Ministry,' in his volume on the Epistle to the Philippians.

1:1-7 The highest honour of the most eminent ministers is, to be servants of Christ. And those who are not really saints on earth, never will be saints in heaven. Out of Christ, the best saints are sinners, and unable to stand before God. There is no peace without grace. Inward peace springs from a sense of Divine favour. And there is no grace and peace but from God our Father, the fountain and origin of all blessings. At Philippi the apostle was evil entreated, and saw little fruit of his labour; yet he remembers Philippi with joy. We must thank our God for the graces and comforts, gifts and usefulness of others, as we receive the benefit, and God receives the glory. The work of grace will never be perfected till the day of Jesus Christ, the day of his appearance. But we may always be confident God will perform his good work, in every soul wherein he has really begun it by regeneration; though we must not trust in outward appearances, nor in any thing but a new creation to holiness. People are dear to their ministers, when they receive benefit by their ministry. Fellow-sufferers in the cause of God should be dear one to another.Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,.... The apostle sets his own name first, as being not only superior to Timothy in age, in office, and in character, but the sole writer of this epistle. The reasons of his joining Timothy with him are, because he was with him when he first preached at Philippi, and so was known unto the Philippians, and respected by them; and because he was about to send him to them again, whose commendations he enlarges on in the epistle itself; and to let them see, that there was a continued agreement between them in affection and doctrine. It shows indeed great humility in the apostle to join with him one so young, and so much inferior to him on all accounts; though it must be observed, that Timothy was not a partner with him in composing the epistle; he only joined in the salutation to this church, and approved of the letter to it, and might be the amanuensis of the apostle; but had no hand in the epistle itself, which was dictated by Paul under divine inspiration. He chooses a character which agreed to them both; he does not say apostles, for Timothy was no apostle, though he himself was, but "servants of Jesus Christ"; not of men; nor did they seek to please men by preaching the doctrines and commandments of men, and which are suited to the carnal reasonings, lusts, and pleasures of men; for then the character here assumed would not belong to them: but servants of Christ; and that not in such sense only as all mankind are, or in right ought to be, since all are his creatures, and therefore ought to serve him; nor merely as all the saints in common are, being bought with the price of Christ's blood, and being effectually called by his grace, and so made willing to serve him from a principle of love, without servile fear, and with a view to his glory; but as ministers of the word, and preachers of the Gospel; they were his servants in the Gospel, they served him under the ministerial character, and as such were the servants of the most high God, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; so that this title is far from being mean and despicable, it is high, honourable, and glorious,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. The persons to whom this epistle is inscribed are here described by the place of their abode, Philippi, and by the various characters they bore in the church; which was at this time very numerous, consisting of many members, and of proper officers, and are both taken notice of here. The members are meant by "all the saints in Christ Jesus"; they were saints or holy persons, not by Moses and his law; not by ceremonial ablutions and sacrifices, which only sanctified to the purifying of the flesh, but could not take away sin, or cleanse from it; nor by themselves and their moral righteousness; for though thereby men, nay outwardly appear holy and righteous, yet they remain inwardly unholy and impure; nor by baptism, which has no regenerating nor sanctifying virtue in it; if persons are not saints before that, they are never by it; it leaves them as it finds them, and neither takes away original or actual sin: but these were saints in and by Christ; they were become holy in consequence of being in Christ; men are first in Christ, and then saints in him; they are chosen "in him" before the world began to be holy, and in time are made new men, new creatures, are created in him unto good works by virtue of their being in him; hence he sanctifies his church and people by his blood, they being so nearly related to him, and interested in him, and he in them; hence they being first of God in Christ, he is made sanctification to them; and hence internal holiness is wrought in them from Christ, by his Spirit; which being begun is carried on, and will be performed until the day of Christ; and which was the happy case of these Philippians, as the apostle was confident of. The officers of this church were "the bishops and deacons". The "bishops" were the pastors, elders, and overseers of the church, for a bishop and an elder is one and the same; see Acts 20:17; where the elders of the church at Ephesus are called "overseers" or "bishops"; for the same word is used there as here; and the Syriac version here renders the word by "elders": and they design no other than common and ordinary pastors; who have the name of elders from their age, gravity, and seniority; and that of bishops and overseers from the nature of their office, which is to feed, watch, inspect, and take the oversight of the flock, minister sound doctrine to them, and preserve them from error and heresies. It seems by this, and the instance of the church at Ephesus, that there were, and so may be, where there is necessity for it, more pastors or bishops than one in a church; unless it can be thought that there were more churches than one in each of these cities; or that the pastors of adjacent churches are here included; neither of which seem to be a clear case, but the contrary: but then these pastors or bishops were all upon an equal foot; one had not any authority or power over another, or more authority than another; they were not metropolitan or diocesan bishops, but pastors of a particular church; and were neither lords over one another, nor of God's heritage. The "deacons" were such as served tables, the Lord's table, the minister's table, and the poor's table; took care of the secular affairs of the church, received and disbursed moneys, kept the church's accounts, and provided everything necessary for its temporal good. The one sort of these officers were concerned with the souls and spiritual estate of the members of the church; the others with their bodies and temporal estate, by visiting the sick, relieving the poor, &c. and both these exhibit the true primitive plan of church offices and discipline; there being no other order of offices or officers, in a Christian church of divine institution, but pastors and deacons; whatever else is introduced is without warrant, and comes from the man of sin. These officers are mentioned by the apostle, not only to show his respect to them, but to observe to the members of this church, that they ought to esteem them highly for their works' sake; these being offices of great importance and usefulness to the church, which, by having such, was a truly organized church of Christ.

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