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Song of Solomon
Philippians 4 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord,
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown.
The apostle here, as in
1 Corinthians 15:58
, urges the hope of a glorious resurrection as an incentive to steadfastness in the Christian life. He seems scarcely able to find words adequate to express his love for the Philippians; he heaps together epithets of affection, dwelling tenderly on the word "beloved." He tells them of his longing desire to see them, repeating the word used in
. He calls them his "joy and crown" - his joy now, his crown hereafter. He uses the same words of the other great Macedonian Church in
1 Thessalonians 2:19
, "What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye?" The Greek word for "crown" (
) means commonly either the wreath ("the corruptible crown,"
1 Corinthians 9:25
) which was the prize of victors at the Grecian games; or a garland worn at banquets and festivities. The royal crown is generally
is used in the Septuagint for a king's crown (see (in the Greek)
2 Samuel 12:30
; Psalm 20:4 (A.V., Psalms 21:3);
). The crown of thorns, too, which was used in mockery of the Savior's kingly title, was
στέφανος ἐξ ἀκανθῶν
, though this may possibly have been suggested by the laurel wreath worn by the Roman Caesars (see Trench, 'Synonyms of the New Testament,' sect. 23.). "The crown of life," "the crown of glory that fadeth not away," is the emblem both of victory and of gladness. Yet it is also in some sense kingly: the saints shall sit with Christ in his throne; they shall reign with him; they are kings ("a kingdom," R.V., with the best manuscripts) and priests unto God (
). In this place victory seems to be the thought present to the apostle's mind. In
and Philippians 2:12-14 he has been comparing the Christian life with the course of the Grecian athletes. Now he represents his converts as constituting his crown or wreath of victory at the last; their salvation is the crowning reward of his labors and sufferings
. So stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved
; that is, as ye have us for an example; or perhaps, as becomes citizens of the heavenly commonwealth. The same word (
) is used in
, also in connection with the idea of citizenship.
I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
I beseech Enodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord
It is plain from the next verse that both are female names. The narrative in
shows that the female element was more than usually important in the early Philippian Church. These ladies seem to have held a high position in that Church; possibly they may have been deaconesses, like Phoebe at Cenchrea. Their dissensions disturbed the peace of the Church. The repeated "I beseech" is emphatic; it may, perhaps, also imply that both were in fault. St. Paul earnestly begs them to be reconciled, and to be reconciled as Christians, in the Lord, as members of his body, in the consciousness of his presence. Mark how often the words, "in Christ," "in the Lord," occur in this Epistle; how constantly the thought of spiritual union with Christ was present to the apostle's mind.
And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and
other my fellowlabourers, whose names
in the book of life.
And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow
, with R.V. and the best manuscripts;
is a particle of earnest appeal (comp.
I ask or request.
The Greek word
is used in New Testament Greek (in classical Greek it means "to inquire") of requests addressed to an equal;
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
, yokefellow, would resemble St. Paul's reference to Onesimus in
. 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.
; and Revelation,
). 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.
Rejoice in the Lord alway:
again I say, Rejoice.
Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say
, Rejoice; rather, as R.V.,
again I will say.
St. Paul returns to the key-note of the Epistle, Christian joy. He writes again the same things (see
); he will say it again, he. never wearies of repeating that holy joy is a chief Christian duty. Rejoice in the Lord; in his presence, in communion with him, and that always; for he who rejoices in the Lord, as Chrysostom says, always rejoices, even in affliction: "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (
2 Corinthians 6:10
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord
Let your moderation be known unto all men
(here the neuter adjective is used) is translated "gentleness" in
2 Corinthians 10:1
, where it is attributed to our Lord himself. In the Aristotelian' Ethics' it stands for the temper which contents itself with less than its due, and shrinks from insisting on its strict rights. There is no joy in a narrow selfishness; joy involves an open heart, a generous love. Joy in the Lord tends to make men gentle and mild to others. "Gaudium in Domino," says Bengel, "parit veram aequitatem erga proximum."
Unto all men
; heathen as well as Christian. Compare our Lord's word: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." St. Paul would have the heathen
, "See how these Christians love one another." Their mutual love would be the blessed means of drawing fresh converts to the faith. There may possibly be an allusion here to the differences between Euodia and Syntyche; let there be no more disagreements, but rather mutual forbearance.
The Lord is at hand
. The Aramaic
("the Lord cometh") in
1 Corinthians 16:22
seems to imply that these words were current in the Church as a formula of warning, like "Hallelujah" as a set form of praise. The Lord is at hand therefore be not careful to exact your full rights; love is more precious than gold in the treasury of heaven. Comp.
, "Be ye also patient,... for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." Others interpret the words, not of the future advent, but of the Lord's present nearness. Comp.
, "The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him." But this seems scarcely so appropriate here.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Be careful for nothing
; rather, as R.V.,
in nothing be anxious.
is anxious, distracting care. St. Paul does not wish his converts to be careless, but to be free from that over-anxiety about worldly things which might distract their thoughts from the service of God, and hinder their growth in holiness. Comp.
1 Peter 5:7
, where the apostle bids us cast all our care (
) upon God. The thought of the Lord's nearness should lead us both to be forbearing in our relations to others, and also to keep ourselves free, as far as may be, from worldly anxieties. "He careth for us."
But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God
. "Curare et orare," says Bengel, "plus inter se pugnant quam aqua et ignis."
; in each emergency, little or great, as it arises, pray; cultivate the habit of referring all things, great or small, to God in prayer. The two words rendered "prayer" and "supplication"
) occur together also in
1 Timothy 2
:l and Ephesians 5:5. The first has been defined by Chrysostom and others as prayer to obtain a good; the second, prayer to avoid an evil Better, perhaps, as most modern commentators,
is the general word, covering the idea of prayer in its widest meaning; while
is a special act of supplication for some particular object of need (see Trench, 'Synonyms of the New Testament,' sect. 51.).
Thanksgiving is the necessary accompaniment of prayer; it ought never to be absent from our devotions; it springs out of that holy joy which St. Paul so constantly sets before us in this Epistle as the bounden duty of Christians. St. Paul himself is an example of constant thanksgiving. All his Epistles, except those to the Galatians, 1 Timothy, and Titus, open with a thanksgiving. In the dungeon at Philippi he and Silas "prayed and sang praises unto God" (
). Our requests, the things for which we ask, are to be made known unto God;
πρὸς τὸν Θεόν
before God, in the presence of God, by prayer, the general converse of the soul with God; and by supplication, direct petitions for the supply of our necessities. Indeed, he knows our necessities before we ask; but we are encouraged to make them known before him, as Hezekiah took the letter of Sennacherib and spread it before the Lord.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding
. The peace which God gives, which flows from the sense of his most gracious presence, and consists in childlike confidence and trustful love. This peace passeth all understanding; its calm blessedness transcends the reach of human thought; it can be known only by the inner experience of the believer. The similar passage, Ephesians in 20, "Unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think," seems decisive for the ordinary interpretation. Bishop Light-foot, Meyer, and others take another view of the passage: "Surpassing every device or counsel of man.
which is far better, which produces a higher satisfaction, than all punctilious self-assertion, all anxious forethought."
Shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus
; rather, as R.V.,
shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
Peace shall guard - "a verbal paradox, for to guard is a warrior's duty" (Bishop Lightfoot). The peace of God abiding in the heart is a sure and trusty garrison, guarding it so that the evil spirit, once cast out, cannot return. The thoughts issue from the heart; for the heart, as commonly in the Hebrew Scriptures, is regarded as the seat of the intellect, not of feeling only.
In Christ Jesus
; in the sphere of his influence, his presence. True believers, abiding in Christ, realize his promise, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you."
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things
honest, whatsoever things
just, whatsoever things
pure, whatsoever things
lovely, whatsoever things
of good report; if
any virtue, and if
any praise, think on these things.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true
. He repeats the "finally" of
, He again and again prepares to close his Epistle, but cannot at once bid farewell to his beloved Philippians. He urges them to fill their thoughts with things good and holy. Christ is the Truth: all that is true comes from him; the false, the vain, is of the earth, earthy. Perhaps the verb (
) may be emphatic. Sceptics may deny the existence of absolute truth; men may scoffingly ask, "What is truth?" Truth is real, and it is found in Christ, the Truth.
Whatsoever things are honest
. The word (
) occurs only here and four times in the pastoral Epistles. It is a word difficult translate. "Honourable" or" reverend" (the renderings of the R.V.) are better equivalents than "honest." It points to a Christian decorum, a Christian self-respect, which is quite consistent with true humility, for it is a reverence for the temple of God.
Whatsoever things are just
; rather, perhaps,
, in the widest meaning.
Whatsoever things are pure
; not only chaste, but free from stain or defilement of any sort. The word used here (
not common in the New Testament. The adverb occurs in
, where it is rendered "sincerely," and implies purity of motive.
Whatsoever things are lovely
); not beautiful, but pleasing, lovable; whatsoever things would attract the love of holy souls.
Whatsoever things are of good report
. The word (
) means "well-speaking" (not "well spoken of"), and so "gracious," "attractive;" in classical Greek it means "auspicious," "of good omen." Of these six heads, the first two describe the subjects of devout thought as they are in themselves; the second pair relate to practical life; the third pair to the moral approbation which the contemplation of a holy life excites in good men.
If there be any virtue
. This word, so very common in the Greek moralists, occurs nowhere else in St. Paul. Nor does any other of the New Testament writers use it except St. Peter (l Peter 2:9 (in the Greek);
2 Peter 1:3, 5
). Bishop Lightfoot says, "The strangeness of the word, combined with the change of expression,
, will suggest another explanation: 'Whatever value may reside in your old heathen conception of virtue, whatever consideration is due to the praise of men; ' as if the apostle were anxious not to omit any possible ground of appeal."
And if there be any praise
2 Corinthians 8:21
, where St. Paul bids us "provide for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." Nevertheless, in the highest point of view, the praise of the true Israelite is not of man, but of God.
Think on these things
; or, as in the margin of R.V.,
take account of.
Let these be the considerations which guide your thoughts and direct your motives. The apostle implies that we have the power of governing our thoughts, and so are responsible for them. If the thoughts are ordered well, the outward life will follow.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do
. St. Paul turns from contemplation to practical life: they must translate into action the lessons which they received from him. The verbs are aorists and refer to the time when he was among them. He taught not by word only, but by living example; they saw in him when present, and heard of him when he was absent, a pattern of the Christian life.
And the God of peace shall be with you
. God dwells with those who think holy thoughts and live holy lives; and with him comes the peace which is his, which he giveth (comp.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again
. St. Paul thanks the Philippian Church for the gifts brought by Epaphroditus; his expressions, so courteous and yet so dignified, bespeak, like the Epistle to Philemon, like all his writings, the perfect gentleman in the best sense of the word.
I rejoiced in the Lord
; he fulfils his own precept (ver. 4). His joy rises kern the gift to the love which prompted the gift, and thence to the Divine Giver of that love.
Bengel says, "Hoc vix placuerit Stoico. Paulus ingentes affectns habuit, sed in Domino." The R.V. rendering of the following words is more literal: "Ye revived your thought for me." The verb is properly used of a tree putting forth fresh shoots after its winter sleep. Bengel thinks that the metaphor was derived from the season; the apostle was writing in the spring. Offsets, as Meyer, render differently, "
flourished again (
in your circumstances) so as to mind my interests." As the words might seem to imply some degree of blame, St. Paul hastens to ascribe the delay of the Philippians to causes beyond their own control. Wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity; more literally,
wherein ye did indeed take thought
, as R.V. It may be that they had no suitable messenger; but St. Paul speaks of the "deep poverty" of the Macedonian Churches in
2 Corinthians 8:1, 2
, where he also praises their liberality.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,
to be content.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content
. . He explains himself; it is not want that prompted his words. Literally, I
(the verb is aorist); that
, when he became a Christian. The A.V. is verbally inaccurate in the following words, which mean literally, "In the circumstances in which I am." But the sense is the same. St. Paul is speaking of his present condition: he is content with it, though it involves all the hardships of captivity; his present contentment is a sample of his habitual frame of mind.
here rendered "
," is a common word in Greek philosophy. It means "self-sufficient," "
It is of frequent occurrence in Stoical treatises; but St. Paul uses it in a Christian sense; he is
in relation to man, but his
comes from God (
2 Corinthians 9:8
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound
. St. Paul had experience both of sorrow and of joy, both of distress and of comfort; he knew how to bear himself in both, because his chiefest joy was "in the Lord." This abiding joy raised him above the vicissitudes of this mortal state, and gave him an
, a Christian independence, which enabled him to act becomingly both in adversity and in prosperity.
Everywhere and in all things I am instructed
; literally, as R.V.,
in everything and in all things
; as we say, "in each and all," in every condition separately and in all collectively. The R.V. translates more accurately, "have I learned the secret." The Greek
means properly, "I have been' initiated." It is a word adapted from the old Greek mysteries; comp. B.C.ngel, "Disciplina arcana imbutus sum, ignota mundo." St. Paul represents the advanced Christian life as a mystery, the secrets of which are taught by God. the Holy Ghost to the soul that longs to prove in its own personal experience "what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." St. Paul frequently uses the word
, mystery, for the truths once hidden but now brought to light by the gospel.
Both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
The word rendered "to be full" (
) is strictly used of animals, and means "to be foddered;" in the New Testament and later Greek it is used also of men, without any depreciatory significance, as in
shall be filled (
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me
; rather, as R.V.,
in him that strengtheneth me.
The best manuscripts omit the word "Christ" in this place.
It is only in Christ, in spiritual union with him, that the Christian is
, self-sufficient. His presence gives strength to do and suffer all things (comp.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction
; rather, as R.V.,
ye had fellowship with my affilction.
St. Paul values the sympathy, the fellow-feeling, more than the gifts; he could have done without the gifts, but they were precious as a proof of love.
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel when I departed from Macedonia
. He reminds them delicately of their former liberality to show his love for them; he was not unwilling to receive kindnesses from them. He had always refused to accept contributions from the Corinthians; but the bonds which bound him to the Macedonian Churches were closer and tenderer.
In the be
inning of the gospel
; when he first preached in Macedonia, ten years ago. The words, "when I departed from Macedonia," may refer either to some gifts not mentioned elsewhere, sent to him when be left Beroea for Athens; or, if the aorist be taken in a pluperfect sense, to the supplies afterwards sent to him at Corinth (
2 Corinthians 11:8, 9
No Church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only
. Chrysostom understands this of giving worldly things and receiving spiritual things (comp.
1 Corinthians 9:11
). But the context seems to restrict the meaning to temporal gifts: the Philippians gave, St. Paul received. Bengel says, "Poterant diccre, Faciemus, si alii fecerint: nunc eo major horum laus est: ceterorum, eo minor."
For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
This shows the promptness of their generosity; they not only helped him when he departed from Macedonia; but, before that time, while he was still at Thessalonica, the city which he visited next after leaving Philippi, they sent more than once to supply his needs; Comp.
1 Thessalonians 2:9
2 Thessalonians 2:8
, where St. Paul says that he avoided being chargeable to the Thessalonians; for which purpose he labored with his own hands; but, it seems, he needed additional help, and this was supplied from Philippi.
Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account
; rather, as R.V., not
seek for the gift
but I seek for the fruit that creaseth to your account.
He shrinks sensitively from the danger of being mistaken; his words are not to be understood as a hint for further gifts. It is not the gift that he desires; but there is something which he longs for, and that is, charity, the fruit of the Spirit, showing itself in the generosity of the Philippians - the fruit of good works, continually increasing, and set down in heaven to their account.
But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things
which were sent
from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
But I have all, and abound: am full
. I have to the full all that I need, and more. (For the word
Matthew 6:2, 5, 16
Having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.
He uses another metaphor: in ver. 17 the gift was fruit, now it is a sacrifice: given to the servant of God, it is in truth offered to God himself. "How high does he lift their gift!" says Chrysostom; "it is not I, he says, who have received it, but God through me." The words,
, an odour of sweet smell, occur often in the Old Testament in connection with sacrifice (see
; also for the metaphor,
almsgiving is also described as a sacrifice with which God is well pleased. The first and chiefest offering we can make is ourselves: "
offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies" (comp.
); in that chief offering is involved the lesser gift of alms.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
But my God shall supply all your need
; rather, as R.V.,
every need of yours, My God
; the pronoun is emphatic, as in
. God will accept your offerings as made to him; you have supplied my need, he will supply every need of yours.
According to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus
; it should be "in Christ Jesus." The reward is given to his saints through union with him: "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, they are changed into the same image kern glory to glory."
; that is, by setting them in glory - the glory of holiness now, the glory of eternal life hereafter.
Now unto God and our Father
glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever
; rather, with R.V.,
unto our God and Father be the glory.
The thought of God's present mercies, and the hope of glory to come mentioned in the last verse, suggest the doxology. Observe, St. Paul
, "our God and Father" here. He said, "my God" in ver. 19, where he was speaking of the reward which God would give for kindness shown to himself; but now "our God," as the one Object of praise and worship from the universal Church.
glory; the article is commonly used with
in these doxologies - the glory which is God's peculiar possession, which is essentially his (comp.
). Bishop Lightfoot says, in his note on Galatians 1:5, "It is probable that we should supply
in such cases rather than
. It is an affirmation rather than a wish. Glory is the essential attribute of God. See
1 Peter 4:11
Ωι ἐστὶν ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος
, and the doxology added to the Lord's Prayer (
For ever and ever
for the ages of ages
; for the ages which consist, not of years, but of ages, for the countless ages of eternity (comp.
1 Timothy 1:17
Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.
Salute every saint in Christ Jesus
. Every saint individually - an expression of personal affection. The words, "in Christ Jesus," may be taken with "salute," as in
1 Corinthians 16:19
. It is a Christian salutation, an acknowledgment of spiritual relationship; or better, perhaps, as in numerous passages, with "saint." All saints are in Christ, members of his body, knit together into one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of Christ. It is this union with Christ which makes them saints.
The brethren which are with me greet you.
Observe, he calls them "brethren," though he had none like-minded with him, save only Timothy (
Philippians 2:20, 21
All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.
All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household
. All the Christians at Rome, not only St. Paul's personal friends and companions. It is not clear why he lays a special stress on those belonging to Nero's household. The reason given by Chrysostom seems somewhat fanciful: "If those who dwelt in palaces despised all things for the sake of the King of heaven, much more should the Philippians do so." Some of them may have been known to the Philippian Christians. The term
included all ranks, from the highest official to the lowest freedman or slave. It is probable that those alluded to here belonged to the humbler classes. But at any rate St. Paul's words prove that his preaching had penetrated into that abyss of all infamy, the palace of Nero. (For the Christianity of Seneca, and the supposed correspondence between him and St. Paul see Bishop Lightfoot's dissertation on 'St. Paul and Seneca.' See also his detached note on 'Caesar's Household.')
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
with you all. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all
. Amen; read, with the best manuscripts,
with your spirit.
St. Paul begins with "grace" (
), and ends with "grace." The gracious love of the Lord Jesus was the joy of his heart.
Courtesy of Open Bible
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