Philippians 4:3 MEANING

Philippians 4:3
(3) I intreat.--This rendering is too strong. It is, I ask, or request. The word means properly, to ask a question; secondarily, to make a request on equal terms, as of right. Hence never used (except, perhaps, in 1 John 5:16) of prayer from us to God.

True yokefellow,--This obscure phrase has greatly exercised conjecture. (1) It is curious historically to note the opinion, as old as Clement of Alexandria, that St. Paul referred to his own wife; but the opinion is clearly untenable in the face of 1 Corinthians 7:8; 1 Corinthians 9:5. (2) The word is never elsewhere applied by St. Paul to a fellow-Christian, and must denote some peculiar fellowship. Many guesses as to its meaning have been made. Some refer it to St. Luke, who seems to be in the history closely connected with Philippi; others to Lydia, the first-fruits of the gospel in that city. Perhaps the most likely supposition is that it may refer to Epaphroditus, the bearer, perhaps the amanuensis, of the Epistle, who had certainly come to help St. Paul to bear his yoke of suffering, and in whose case the sudden address in the second person would cause no ambiguity. (3) But a not improbable conjecture is that the word is a proper name--"Syzygus"--a'name, it is true, not actually known--and that the word "true" (properly, genuine) means "Syzygus, rightly so-called." It is obvious to compare the play on the name "Onesimus," in Philemon 1:11.

Those women . . .--It should be, help them (Euodia and Syntyche), inasmuch as they laboured with me. The word "laboured" signifies "joined with me in my struggle," and probably refers to something more than ordinary labour, in the critical times of suffering at Philippi.

Clement.--From the time of Origen downwards this Clement has been identified with the famous Clement, bishop of Rome, and author of the well-known Epistle to the Church at Corinth, of whom Irenaeus expressly says that he had seen and been in company with "the blessed Apostles," and who in his Epistle refers emphatically to the examples both of St. Peter and St. Paul, as belonging to the times "very near at hand;" but dwells especially on St. Paul, "as seven times a prisoner in chains, exiled, stoned," "a herald of the gospel in the East and the West," "a teacher of righteousness to the whole world," and one who "penetrated to the farthest border of the West." (See his Epistle, Php. 5)

The fact that he was at this time working at Philippi--considering that Philippi, as a Roman colony, was virtually a part of Rome--is no objection to this identification; nor is the chronology decisive against it, though it would make Clement an old man when he wrote his Epistle. The identification may stand as not improbable, while the commonness of the name Clemens makes it far from certain.

Whose names are in the book of life.--For "the Book of Life," see Daniel 12:1; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 21:27. From that Book the name may be blotted out now (Revelation 3:5; comp. Exodus 32:33) till the end fixes it for ever. There is (as has been always noticed) a peculiar beauty in the allusion here. The Apostle does not mention his fellow-labourers by name, but it matters not; the names are written before God in the Book of Life. If they continue in His service, those names shall shine out hereafter, when the great names of the earth fade into nothingness.

Verse 3. - And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow; rather, yea, with R.V. and the best manuscripts; καὶ is a particle of earnest appeal (comp. Philemon 1:20 and Revelation 22:20); I ask or request. The Greek word ἐρωτῶ is used in New Testament Greek (in classical Greek it means "to inquire") of requests addressed to an equal; αἰτῶ is used in addressing a superior (comp. Trench, 'Synonyms of the New Testament,' sect. 40.). Who was the "true yokefellow"? Some, following Clement of Alexandria, interpret the words of a supposed wife of St. Paul. But the Greek adjective has the masculine termination; and it is plain, from 1 Corinthians 7:8, that St. Paul was unmarried. Others take one of the Greek words as the proper name of the person addressed, Syzygus or Gnesius. On the first supposition, the play on the meaning of Syzygus, yokefellow, would resemble St. Paul's reference to Onesimus in Philemon 1:11. But neither of these words seems to occur as a proper name. Some again, as Chrysostom, interpret the word of the husband of Euodia or Syntyche: this does not seem likely. Others think that Lydia may be addressed here. The omission of her name is remarkable; but she may bare been dead or no longer resident at Philippi. Others understand the chief pastor of the Church at Philippi, who may very possibly have been Epaphroditus himself, the bearer of the letter. This, on the whole, seems the most probable conjecture. The omission of the name implies that the person addressed was in a conspicuous position, so that there was no danger of mistakes. An important duty is assigned to him. And it may be that the word "yokefellow," as distinguished from "fellow-laborer," denotes something more of equality with the apostle. Help those women which labored with me in the gospel; rather, as R.V., help those women, for they labored with me. Help Euodia and Syntyche towards a mutual reconciliation, and that, inasmuch as they labored in the gospel. With Clement also. Are these words to be connected with "help" or with labored"? Is Clement associated with the "true yokefellow" in the work of reconciliation, or with the women who labored with St. Paul? The balance of probability seems to be in favor of the first alternative; there appears to be no reason for mentioning Clement's labors in this place; while, on the other hand, St. Paul's anxiety for the reconciliation of Euodia and Syntyehe might naturally urge him to ask for the combined efforts of all his fellow-laborers. Whether this Clement is to be identified with St. Clement the Bishop of Rome is an open question; there are no sufficient data for deciding it (see Bishop Lightfoot's detached note). And with other my fellow-laborers; rather, as R.V., and the rest of my fellow-workers. St. Paul appeals to them all. Whose names are in the book of life. St. Paul does not mention their names; there is no need that he should do so - they are written in heaven (comp. Exodus 32:32; Psalm 69:28; Daniel 12:1; and Revelation, passim). The book of life is the roll of the citizens of the heavenly kingdom. The passages quoted do not necessarily involve the doctrine of an unconditional, irreversible predestination, or the phrase, "to blot out of my hook," could not be used.

4:2-9 Let believers be of one mind, and ready to help each other. As the apostle had found the benefit of their assistance, he knew how comfortable it would be to his fellow-labourers to have the help of others. Let us seek to give assurance that our names are written in the book of life. Joy in God is of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it. It more than outweighs all causes for sorrow. Let their enemies perceive how moderate they were as to outward things, and how composedly they suffered loss and hardships. The day of judgment will soon arrive, with full redemption to believers, and destruction to ungodly men. There is a care of diligence which is our duty, and agrees with a wise forecast and due concern; but there is a care of fear and distrust, which is sin and folly, and only perplexes and distracts the mind. As a remedy against perplexing care, constant prayer is recommended. Not only stated times for prayer, but in every thing by prayer. We must join thanksgivings with prayers and supplications; not only seek supplies of good, but own the mercies we have received. God needs not to be told our wants or desires; he knows them better than we do; but he will have us show that we value the mercy, and feel our dependence on him. The peace of God, the comfortable sense of being reconciled to God, and having a part in his favour, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, are a greater good than can be fully expressed. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinning under troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm and with inward satisfaction. Believers are to get and to keep a good name; a name for good things with God and good men. We should walk in all the ways of virtue, and abide therein; then, whether our praise is of men or not, it will be of God. The apostle is for an example. His doctrine and life agreed together. The way to have the God of peace with us, is to keep close to our duty. All our privileges and salvation arise in the free mercy of God; yet the enjoyment of them depends on our sincere and holy conduct. These are works of God, pertaining to God, and to him only are they to be ascribed, and to no other, neither men, words, nor deeds.And I entreat thee also, true yoke fellow,.... Not his wife, as some think (d), for he had none, as appears from 1 Corinthians 7:7, at the writing of which epistle he was at Ephesus, where he stayed some little time, and then went to Jerusalem; where he was quickly apprehended, and sent a prisoner to Rome, and where he now was as such; and therefore it is not likely that he should marry a wife within this compass of time, and much less that he should have one at Philippi; besides, the word used is of the masculine gender, and designs a man and not a woman: some think it is the proper name of a man, who was called "Syzygus", and so the Arabic interpreter seems to understand it; and by the apostle, true "Syzygus", signifying that as was his name, so was he, really and in truth, a companion and fellow labourer, that drew in the same yoke with him; the Syriac version renders it, "the son of my yoke", and the Ethiopic version, "my brother and my companion": some think this person was the husband or brother of one of the above women; and therefore is entreated to use his interest, and compose the difference between them, or endeavour to reconcile them to the church; and others that it was the jailer, that was converted by the apostle: but it seems most likely to have been one that was under the same yoke of the Gospel, and who had been employed with him in preaching of it, a fellow labourer; such an one as Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy, and might be one of those; or rather Epaphroditus, who was minister in this church, and by whom the apostle sent this letter, and whom he might address and importune in this manner; the word may very well be thought to answer to the Hebrew word often used in Jewish writings, for an associate, a colleague, and a disciple of the wise men, to which the apostle may allude; see Philippians 2:25,

help those women; Euodias and Syntyche. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions read "them", referring to the above women; and the Arabic version reads, "help both"; that is, both those women; not by relieving their temporal wants, which it does not appear they were in; but either by composing their differences, or by assisting them with good counsel and advice; and giving them proper instructions in the doctrines of the Gospel, that they might be brought to think the same things the church did: and the rather such pains should be taken with them, since they were such, says the apostle,

which laboured with me in the Gospel; not in preaching it, for he suffered not a woman to teach in the church, 1 Timothy 2:12; but by professing it, and bearing reproach and persecution for it; and by supporting and encouraging, and spreading it with their worldly substance:

with Clement also; which some think is the same with Clemens Romanus, who was afterwards bishop of Rome, and whose epistle to the Corinthians is still extant; other writings are ascribed to him, but are spurious; however, by his name he seems to be a Roman; and from his being joined with the apostle, as one with whom these women also laboured in the Gospel, he appears to be a preacher of it at Philippi:

and with other my fellow labourers; in the work of the ministry, as Timothy, who was with him at Philippi, when he first preached the Gospel there, Acts 16:1, and some others:

whose names are in the book of life; the book of God's eternal purposes and decrees, divine predestination to eternal life; and this being called a "book", and the names of persons being said to be in it, denote the love of God to his elect, his care of them, his value for them, his remembrance of them, and the exact knowledge which he has of them; as well as imply, that his eternal election of them is personal and particular, is well known to him, and is sure and unchangeable; being more so than the writing of Pilate on the cross, who said, what I have written, I have written, John 19:22; and is called the "book of life", because those whose names are written in it, have a spiritual life here, and an eternal one hereafter; to both which they are afore written in this book, or pre-ordained in God's counsels, and certainly and infallibly enjoy it: now the apostle's knowledge of these persons being written in this book, did not arise from any special revelation, as being shown the book of life, and the names of the elect in it, when he was caught up into the third heaven, 2 Corinthians 12:2; nor was his knowledge of this matter peculiar and limited to these persons only, but common to all that he had reason to hope and believe had received the grace of God in truth, and walked worthy of the calling wherewith they were called, Ephesians 4:1; such persons in a judgment of charity, which hopes and believes all things, he concluded were in this book of life; and the same judgment, faith, and hope, ought all believers to form and entertain one of another, nothing appearing contrary to it, in their faith and conversation,

(d) Vid. Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 30.

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