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Song of Solomon
Philippians 3 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed
not grievous, but for you
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord
. This word "finally" (
is frequently used by St. Paul to introduce a practical conclusion after the doctrinal portion of his Epistles: thus it occurs again in
, and also in
2 Corinthians 13:11
1 Thessalonians 4:1
2 Thessalonians 2:1
. Some render
"farewell;" but "rejoice" seems more suitable here. The golden thread of spiritual joy runs through this Epistle. "Rejoice in the Lord" is the oft-repeated refrain of St. Paul's solemn hymn of praise.
To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe
. "The same things:" does he refer to his oral instructions, to a previous Epistle now lost, to his exhortations to unity, or to his reiterated command "Rejoice"? The words seem most naturally to point to something in the same Epistle rather than to advice given on former occasions. It is true that Polycarp, in his letter to the Philippiaus (section 3), says that St. Paul wrote Epistles (
) to them; but there is no trace of any other Epistle; and the mere plural number is not sufficient to support the theory of other letters, the plural word being frequently used of a single letter. Bishop Lightfoot suggests the exhortation to unity in
. But this topic does not reappear before
. And the hypothesis of an interruption, which (as Bishop Lightfoot and others think) suddenly turned the apostle's thoughts into another channel and prevented him from explaining
(the same things) till
, seems forced and unnecessary, notwithstanding the great authority by which it is supported. It seems more probable (Bengel and others) that St. Paul refers to the constant admonition of this Epistle, "Rejoice in the Lord." To repeat this again and again was to him not grievous (rather, with R.V., "irksome"), but safe for the Philippians. Christian joy has a close connection with safety, for it implies unswerving faith, and, more than that, the presence of Christ. Compare the oft-repeated exhortation of
, "Fret not thyself: it tends only to evil-doing" (ver. 8, in the Hebrew). Possibly, however,
here, as in
and. 25:26, may mean "certain." The repetition is not irksome to St. Paul, while it makes his meaning and his wishes certain to the Philippians.
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision
. The connection is, as given in ver. 3, Rejoice in the Lord, not in the flesh; have confidence in him, not in the ceremonies of the Jewish Law. Compare the same contrast in
Galatians 6:13, 14
. There is certainly something abrupt in the sudden introduction of this polemic against Judaizing, especially in writing to Philippi, where there were not many Jews. But there may have been circumstances, unknown to us, which made the warning necessary; or, as some think, the apostle may have written this under excitement caused by the violent opposition of the Jewish faction at Rome.
, observe them, to be on your guard against them. The
The article must be retained in the translation. The Jews called the Gentiles "dogs" (comp.
Matthew 15:26, 27
unclean, mainly because of their disregard of the distinction between clean and unclean food. St. Paul retorts the epithet: they are the dogs, who have confidence in the flesh, not in spiritual religion.
2 Corinthians 11:13
, where he calls them "deceitful workers." The Judaizers were active enough, like the Pharisees who "compassed sea and land to make one proselyte;" but their activity sprang from bad motives - they were evil workers, though their work was sometimes overruled for good (comp.
, cutting, mutilation); a contemptuous word for "circumcision" (
). Compare the Jewish contemptuous use of Isbosheth, man of shame, for Eshbaal, man of Baal, etc. Their circumcision is no better than a mutilation. Observe the paronomasia, the combination of like-sounding words, which is common in St. Paul's Epistles. Winer gives many examples in sect. lxviii.
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
For we are the circumcision
. We: the apostle of the Gentiles identifies himself with the Gentiles (
1 Corinthians 9:2
l); himself circumcised, he recognizes the great truth that they only are the true circumcision whose hearts are mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts.
Which worship God in the spirit
; read, with the best manuscripts,
which worship by the Spirit of God.
, worship, is used specially of the Jewish ceremonial service (comp.
). We Christians, St. Paul means, have not only the true circumcision, but the only true worship: the temple service prefigured the spiritual worship of the Christian Church.
By the Spirit
; by his assistance, inspiration: "We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us" (
). And rejoice in Christ Jesus
). "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord," through whom alone we can obtain salvation, not in any external privileges. And have no confidence in the flesh. Neither in circumcision nor in any other outward rites.
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh
though having myself confidence in the flesh also
, as well as in Christ. The apostle had both grounds of confidence: the one he renounces for the other; but no man could accuse him of despising that which he did not himself possess.
If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more
. He claims the privileges of the Jew; they are his by right, but he counts them loss for Christ.
Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel,
the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
Circumcised the eighth day
at circumcision eight days old.
The apostle was not a proselyte, circumcised at his reception into the Jewish Church; nor an Ishmaelite, circumcised, like Ishmael, at the age of thirteen. Of the stock of Israel Neither were his parents proselytes; he was by descent an Israelite. He uses here the highest title of God's ancient people, the title which implied the inheritance of the covenant made with Jacob. Other nations were descended from Abraham and Isaac; the Israelites alone could claim Jacob for their ancestor; they only could glory in the covenant name given to him when he wrestled all night long with the angel, and proved himself a prince with God (comp. Trench, 'Synonyms of the New Testament,' sect. 39.).
Of the tribe of Benjamin
. His family had preserved their genealogy; he came from the tribe which gave the first king to Israel; which never swerved in its allegiance to the house of David; which, after the Captivity, united with Judah and the Levites to go up and build the house of the Lord (
); the tribe of Esther and Mordecai; the tribe within whose boundary stood the holy city.
A Hebrew of the Hebrews
; omit the article. His father and mother were not only Israelites, but also they retained, though living at Tarsus, the Hebrew language and customs. St. Paul was not a Hellenist; he was brought up at Jerusalem under the great Rabban Gamaliel; he spoke Hebrew (
), and uses the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the Septuagint translation. All the descendants of Jacob were Israelites; those were called Hebrews distinctively who adhered to the use of the sacred language (
As touching the Law, a Pharisee
. He was by birth an Israelite, by education a Hebrew; he became by choice a Pharisee (
); he embraced the straitest sect "as regards Law," the sect which took the strictest view of the Law of Moses.
Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Concerning zeal, persecuting the Church
. He was not only a Pharisee, but an energetic, zealous Pharisee; he carried out the principles of his sect, thinking that he did God service by persecuting those whom he counted as heretics.
Touching the righteousness which is in the Law
, blameless. As far as "the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees" went, the righteousness which is "in Law," which consists, that is, in the observance of formal rules; or which is "of Law" (ver. 9), which springs, that is, from such observance, St. Paul was found blameless. "Rara sane laus et prope singularis," says Calvin, quoted by Alford; "videamus tureen quanti eam fecerit." (For the whole of this passage, comp.
2 Corinthians 11:21, 22
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
- But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ
but such things as used to be gains to me
those I have counted as loss for Christ's sake.
He used to regard these outward privileges, one by one, as so many items of gain; now he has learned to regard them, all in the aggregate, as so much loss because of Christ. They were loss because confidence in outward things tends to keep the soul from Christ.
Τοῦ γὰρ ἡλίου φανέτος
, says Chrysostom,
προσκαθῆσθαι τῷ λύχνῳ ζημία
Yea doubtless, and I count all things
loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them
dung, that I may win Christ,
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss
. He holds fast the truth which he once learned; he still counts all things as loss in comparison with the one thing needful. The particles used here (see Winer, sect. liii.) correct and strengthen the assertion of the last verse, both as to time, "I count," and as to extent, "all things," not only the privileges mentioned above
. For the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord
. The preposition may be rendered "for the sake of," as in ver. 7, or "because of." The knowledge of Christ is a blessing so surpassing and transcendent that nothing else is worthy to be called good in comparison with that one highest good. Its glory, like the rising sun, overwhelms and hides all lesser lights.
The pronoun expresses the warmth of his affection, the close personal communion between the apostle and the Savior (see ch. 1:3).
For whom I have suffered the loss of all things
I suffered the loss of
; literally, I was fined or
; the aorist refers to the time of his conversion.
); all that I had in the world, my all, all things together (comp.
). He lost his all for Christ, for the sake of possessing Christ: with Christ God will freely give him all things (
). And do count them but dung, that I may win Christ
(also in Ecclus. 27:4); dung, or perhaps refuse, dogs' meat; comp.
Matthew 15:26, 27
. There the Jews were the children, the Gentiles dogs. St. Paul here, as in ver. 2, reverses the terms of the comparison; the legal privileges of the Jew nee but as crumbs thrown to dogs in comparison with the rich blessings of the gospel. Comp. also
, where our Lord uses the same verbs, to lose and to gain; the whole world is but loss, the Savior says, compared with the never-dying soul. The loss of one's all in this world (St. Paul echoes the sacred words) is as nothing; all things put together are but as dung, compared with the one thing which St. Paul so longed to gain, Christ himself - his presence in the soul, spiritual union with the Lord. "To gain Christ is to lay fast hold upon him, to receive him inwardly into our bosoms, and so to make him ours and ourselves his, that we may be joined to him as our Head, espoused to him as our Husband, incorporated into him as our Nourishment, engrafted in him as our Stock, and laid upon him as a sure Foundation" (Bishop Hall, ' Christ Mystical,' ch. 6, quoted by Bishop EIlicott).
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
And be found in him; now, at the last day, always
; a member, that is, of his body, a living branch of the true Vine.
Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the Law
; rather, as R.V.,
not harding a righteousness of mine
even that which is of the Law. Not
any righteousness of my own, such as that described in ver. 6, the righteousness which consists in and results from conformity to an external law. But perhaps the words are best rendered, as in the margin of R.V., "Not having as my righteousness that which is of the Law." St. Paul was blameless as regards that righteousness which lies in legal observances: in that he puts no confidence, he seeks a better righteousness
. But that which is through the faith of Christ;
rather, as R.V.,
through faith in
Christ. There is no article, and the genitive is objective. Through faith. God is the Giver, the Source of righteousness; it is given through faith as the means, on condition of faith.
The righteousness which is of God by faith
. Greek, "upon faith," based upon faith, or on condition of faith. St. Paul speaks of "having" this righteousness. Then it is his; yet it is not any righteousness of his own, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done;" but a righteousness of God given to him, merited, not by his works, but by the perfect obedience and the precious death of Christ, and granted unto all who are found in Christ. It comes from God, the one only Giver of all good things; it is obtained through faith as the instrument or means; and it is given on that faith - on condition, that is, of a living faith abiding in the soul. Thus St. Paul states incidentally, but simply and forcibly, the great doctrine of justification by faith.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
That I may know him
τοῦ γνῶναι αὐτόν
). For the grammatical construction, see Winer, sect. 44:b. For the sense, comp.
, where Dr. Westcott notes, "In such a connection,
expresses the apprehension of the truth by the whole nature of man. It is not an acquaintance with facts as external, nor an intellectual conviction of their reality, but an appropriation of them (so to speak) as an influencing power into the very being of him who
is "to know,"
is "to recognize" or "to become acquainted with." We must be found in Christ in order to know him; we must have that righteousness which is through the faith of Christ, for we can know him only by being made like unto him. Comp.
1 John 2:2
, "When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is;" and now those who see him by faith are in their measure being transformed into the same image. For the knowledge here spoken of is a personal knowledge, gained, not by hearing or reading, but by direct personal communion with the Lord; it is not theoretical, but experimental. "non expertus fuerit, non intelligit" (Anselm, quoted by Meyer).
And the power of his resurrection
. The resurrection of Christ was a glorious manifestation of Divine power (
). That resurrection is now a power in the spiritual life of Christians: it stimulates the spiritual resurrection, the resurrection from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness (comp.
). It is the center of our most cherished hopes, the evidence of our immortality, the earnest of the resurrection of the body.
And the fellowship of his sufferings
. This clause and the last are bound together under one article, according to the best manuscripts. There is a very close connection between them (comp.
2 Timothy 2:11, 12
). To know the quickening power of his resurrection, we must share his sufferings. The Christian, meditating in loving thought on the sufferings of Christ, is led to feel ever a deeper, a more awful sympathy with the suffering Savior. And if, when we are called to suffer, we take it patiently, looking unto Jesus, then our sufferings are united with his sufferings, "we suffer
him." And he who hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows feels for us in his sacred heart, being "touched with the feeling of our infirmities." This fellowship in suffering leads through his grace to fellowship in glory (comp.
2 Corinthians 4:10
Being made conformable unto his death
; rather, as R.V.,
The participle is present: it implies a continual progress. It is derived from the word
, form, used in
(where see note), and denotes, not a mere external resemblance, but a deep, real, inner conformity. The reference is not to the impending death of martyrdom, but to that daffy dying unto self and the world which the apostle exhibited in the heroic self-denials of his holy life: he was "crucified with Christ" (
; comp. also
1 Corinthians 15:31
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead
. The apostle uses the language of humble expectation. For the particles, "if by any means" (
. The verb "attain" means to arrive at the end of a journey; it presents the figure of a pilgrimage. Read, with R.V. and the best manuscripts,
the resurrection from the dead.
This phrase (used also in
) means the resurrection of the
1 Corinthians 15:23
1 Thessalonians 4:16
). This meaning is strengthened here by the repetition of the preposition with the word "resurrection" (
). The general resurrection is always called the resurrection
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Not as though I had already. attained, either were already perfect
; the R.V. renders this clause more accurately,
. do not say that
I have already obtained.
The verb is not the same with that translated "attain" in ver. 11; it means to get, to win a prize, as in
1 Corinthians 9:24
. The tense is aorist: "I say not that I did at once win the prize;" that is, at the time of his conversion. Compare the tenses used in ver. 8, "I suffered the loss of all things;" and ver. 12, "I was apprehended;" which both refer to the same time. The prize was gained in a moment; it needs the continued effort of a lifetime. St. Paul proceeds, using now the perfect tense, "Nor have I been already made perfect." He has not even now reached perfection; he is still working out his own salvation. There may be here a delicate allusion to the spiritual pride which seems to have disturbed the unity of the Philippians (see
But I follow after
If that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus
. The words rendered "for which" (
) will admit three different interpretations:
that of A.V., which implies the ellipse of the antecedent "that;"
that given in the margin of R.V., "seeing that;" and
that of the R.V., "for which," for which purpose (that is, that I may press on and persevere) I was also apprehended by Christ Jesus. All these translations are possible, and all give a good sense. Perhaps
best suits the context, "I press on to lay hold o[the prize, because Christ first laid hold of me." The grace of the Lord Jesus furnishes the highest motive; it is the Christian's bounden duty to press on always in the Christian race,
Christ first called him.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but
, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended
; rather, perhaps,
Two of the best manuscripts read "not yet" (
). The pronouns are emphatic: whatever others may think of me or of themselves, "I reckon not
But this one thing
. The ellipse here is forcible; some supply "I reckon;" others, "I say;" others, as A.V., "I do," which seems best suited to the context.
I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before
. St. Paul concentrates all his thoughts and all his energies on the one great end of life, the one thing needful. He forgets those things which are behind; that is, not, as some explain, his Jewish privileges and distinctions, but that part of his Christian race already past. So Chrysostom,
Καὶ γὰρ ὁ δρομεὺς οὐχ ὅσους ἤνυσεν ἀναλογίζεται διαύλους ἀλλ ὅσους λείπεται... Τί γὰρ ἡμᾶς ὠφελεῖ τὸ ἀνυσθὲν ὅταν τὸ λειπόμενον μὴ προστεθῇ
The Greek word
; is singularly emphatic: it means that the athlete throws himself forward in the race with all his energies strained to the very utmost. Compare Bengel, "Oculus manum, manus pedem praevertit et trahit."
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus
; rather, with the best manuscripts,
unto the prize.
The first preposition, "towards," expresses the aim; the second, "unto," the end of the race.
The high calling
; the upward, heavenward calling. God is calling us all upward, heavenward, by the voice of the Lord Jesus, who is the Word of God. Comp.
, "Partakers of the heavenly calling." The words, "in Christ Jesus," are to be taken with "the high calling." It is God who calls: he calls us in the person of Christ, by the voice of Christ, "Come unto me." "It was his will that thou shouldst run the race below; he gives the crown above. Seest thou not that even here they crown the most honored of the athletes, not on the racecourse below, but the king calls them up, and crowns them there" (Chrysostom).
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded
. "Perfect" here means mature, full grown, as opposed to babes or children. The word is so used (in the Greek) in
1 Corinthians 14:20
. "There is a difference," says Bengel, on ver. 12, "between the perfect and the perfected: the first are ready for the. race; the last are close upon the prize." St. Paul exhorts all full-grown Christians to imitate his perseverance; like him, to forsake any claims to legal righteousness; to seek that righteousness which is through the faith of Christ; to know Christ, to win Christ; to press ever forwards to obtain the prize.
And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you
.. If only we be in earnest, pressing onwards in the Christian race with sustained perseverance, God will, by the manifestation of his Spirit in our heart, correct any minor errors of doctrine or of practice. Comp.
, "If any man willeth to do (
) his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God." "Otherwise" (
) seems here to mean otherwise thin is right, wrongly, amiss - a meaning which it has not unfrequently in classical Greek, and in our word "heterodox." Even
well as the one thing needful, the knowledge of Christ, which he has already revealed. Mark the word "reveal." Paul may teach, but living spiritual knowledge is a revelation from God. This passage shows that the word "perfect" is used here in a restricted sense, not of consummated holiness; as it implies that some of the "perfect" may be "otherwise minded," may be involved in minor errors. Good Christians must have that righteousness which is through faith; they must persevere: they may err in less essential points. It is a lesson of charity and humility.
Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing
. Omit, with the best manuscripts, the words from "rule" to "thing," and translate,
whereunto we have already attained
by that same
let us walk
; or, more literally,
what we arrived at
by that same walk. Let
there be no falling back; let us, at each point in our Christian course, maintain and walk according to that degree of grace at which we arrived. This explanation seems more probable than the other view, which understands the words, "by the same," of the rule of faith as opposed to the works of the Law.
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample
; rather, as R.V.,
They are to unite, one and all, in imitating him. In
1 Corinthians 11:1
he gives the ground of this advice, "As I also am of Christ."
, here in order to imitate; elsewhere (as
) in order to avoid. He changes the singular number to the plural, modestly shrinking from proposing himself alone as their example. But "ensample" is still singular, because they all (Timothy, Epaphroditus, etc.) present the same image, all imitating Christ. Observe the change of metaphor: hitherto the Christian life has been compared to a race; now he speaks of walking; literally,
), moving hither and thither in the daily path of life.
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping,
that they are
the enemies of the cross of Christ:
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ
; rather, I
used to tell you
; the tense is imperfect. He used to speak thus of them when he was at Philippi; now, during his absence, the evil has increased, and he repeats his warning with tears. "Paul weeps," says Chrysostom, "for those at whom others laugh; so true is his sympathy, so deep his care for all men." He seems to be speaking here, not of the Jews, but of nominal Christians, who used their liberty for a cloke of licentiousness. Such are enemies of the cross; they hate sell-denial, they will not take up their cross. By their evil lives they bring shame upon the religion of the cross.
destruction, whose God
in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Whose end is destruction
; rather, as R.V.,
Observe the contrast: not the prize of the high calling, but everlasting death
. Whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame
). They boast of their liberty, and pervert it into licence' (
2 Peter 2:19
Who mind earthly things
they who mind.
The irregularity of the construction (he returns to the nominative) seems expressive of the apostle's indignation.
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
For our conversation is in heaven
. The word "our" is emphatic; the apostle refers back to ver. 17: "Follow us, not those enemies of the cross;
conversation is in heaven;
mind earthly things." The A.V. has this same word "conversation" in
, where the Greek (
) is the verb corresponding with the noun (
) which occurs here. The verb is used in the sense of a certain mode of life or conversation, as in
, but it does not appear that the noun ever bears that meaning. The rendering" citizenship" also seems deficient in authority. In classical Greek the word has three meanings:
a form of government;
political acts, politics;
The last seems the most suitable here. The unworthy Christians mentioned in the last verse mind earthly things; but our city, our country, our home, is in heaven: there is the state of which we are citizens; there is the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn, whoso names are inscribed in the roll of the citizens of the heavenly city. Our real home is there
, "Ye are no longer strangers and foreigners, but ye
fellow-citizens of the saints" (comp. also
Hebrews 11:10, 16
and Hebrews 13:14;
From whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ
; rather, we
eagerly wait for
Romans 8:23, 25
he Lord Jesus Christ as a Savior
, "This is the Lord; we have waited for him; we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation."
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body
; rather, as R.V.,
who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation
that it may be conformed to the body of his glory.
Compare the description of our Lord's person and work in
. There St. Paul tells us that he who was originally in the form of God took upon him the form of a servant, and was found in fashion as a man. Here he uses the derivatives of the same words "form" and "fashion" (
), to describe the change of the bodies of the saved at the resurrection. He had already told us (ver. 10) that the Christian soul is being gradually conformed during life unto the death of Christ. He now tells us that this conformity of the Christian unto Christ is ultimately to extend to the body. The Lord shall change the outward fashion of our body; but this change will be more than a change of outward fashion: it will result in a real conformity of the resurrection-body of the believer unto the glorious body of the Lord.
The body of our humiliation
; not "vile body." St. Paul does not despise the body, like the Stoics and Gnostics; the Christian's body is a sacred thing - it is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and the seed of the resurrection-body (comp.
1 Corinthians 6:20
According to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself
. According to the working, the energy, of his power not only to change and glorify the bodies of the redeemed, but also to subdue all things, the whole universe, unto himself. "The apostle shows," says Chrysostom, "greater works of the Savior's power, that thou mightest believe in these."
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