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Philippians Chapter Two                            


I. Content of the Chapter


The Oneness of Believers

A.  The Manifestations of the Oneness (v.1-2):

1. Encouragement in Christ;

2. The comfort of love;

3. Fellowship in spirit;

4. Affection and mercy and compassion in one’s heart;

5. The one mind;

B.  The Hindrance of the Oneness (v.3-4):

1. Rivalry;

2. Vainglory;

3. Pride;

4. Selfish ambition;

C.  The Way of the Oneness ---- let the mind of Christ Jesus be in us (v.5-11):

1. Empty oneself;

2. Humble oneself;

3. Be obedient to the point of death

4. Be highly exalted by God;

D.  The Practice of the Oneness (v.12-13):

1. Obey the working of God in one’s heart;

2. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

E.  The Testimony of the Oneness (v.14-18):

1. Without complaining and disputing;

2. Become blameless and harmless;

3. Hold fast the word of life;

4. Be glad and rejoice

F.  The First Example of the Oneness ---- Timothy and Paul (v.19-24):

1. Timothy is the eye of Paul.

2. Timothy and Paul are of the same mind and are concerned about the saints; 

3. Timothy seeks things of Jesus Christ as Paul;

4. Timothy serves with Paul in the work of the glad tidings;

5. Timothy treats Paul as a child to his father;

G.  The Second Example of the Oneness ---- Epaphroditus and Paul (v.25-30):

1. Epaphroditus is the fellow worker and fellow soldier of Paul.

2. Epaphroditus is sent to minister to the need of Paul.

3. Epaphroditus misses all the saints like Paul.

4. Epaphroditus does not regard the life of Paul for the work of Christ.


II. Verse by Verse Commentary


Phil. 2:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,

YLT: “If, then, any exhortation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of spirit, if any bowels and mercies,”

Meaning of Words: consolation”: imploration, intreaty; comfort”: relate near; “fellowship”: communion, intercourse; “affection”: inward affection, tender mercy, bowel; “mercy”: pity;

Literal Meaning: “if”: it in the original has no meaning of doubt, and it is the established fact, which is the condition and accordance of the following actions.

  “If there is any consolation in Christ”, the exhortation and encouragement of believers are due to their relationship with Christ and are also in Christ.

  “Any comfort of love, gentle words out of love;

“Any fellowship of the Spirit, it means that believers have part in the Spirit or have fellowship in Spirit.

“Affection”: inward feeling;

“Mercy”: outward expression;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Since the work of the gospel in the church is very magnificent and the mission is significant (Phil. 1:27-30), we believers need consolation, comfort and affection of one another.

2)    Only when believers are in Christ and in Spirit can we have proper and right relation with other believers.

3)    Christians should encourage one another. However, in the church today, there are only a few ones that are willing to receive the encouragement of others.

4)    Only those who are in Christ can encourage one another. Consolation outside of Christ may produce problems vainly.

5)    If we have some words in Christ or some consolations in Spirit, we should not hold them in our hearts, but shall speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

6)    But encourage yourselves each day, as long as it is called To-day (Heb. 3:13). It is Christians’ responsibility to encourage one another.

7)    Those who need consolations must be men who have failed, or have been discouraged, or have suffered troubles or spiritual weakness. To such men, thousands of words are still less than a tear of mercy.

8)    What indeed comforts men is not the identity, eloquence or learning of the comforter, but the shedding of his love, especially the gentle words of comfort in love.

9)    What is the real love? Love is to surround his heart with my heart.

10) If we comfort others in an improper way, we may be unable to comfort others but yet trouble others.

11) If believers lack the fellowship in spirit, we will lack the fellowship in life. Only when we often have fellowship in spirit can we provide others and us so as to grow up.

12) Many times, we pay attention to our personal fellowship only, and ignore the fellowship with believers and with all the churches.

13) The trick that Satan often uses is making


Phil. 2:2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

YLT: “fulfil ye my joy, that ye may mind the same thing -- having the same love -- of one soul -- minding the one thing,”

Meaning of Words: “mind”: thought; “love”: the divine love; “fulfill”: accomplish;

Literal Meaning: “be like one-minded”, Paul does not mean that we have the same mind, but that believers’ mind and thought are toward

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The oneness of believers is not fulfilled by any individual opinion or interest, but by the same goal ---- Christ.

2)    The mind and affection of believers should be focused on Christ. Otherwise, there will be disharmony.

3)    Believers should have the same love instead of.

4)    The difficulty for the oneness of believers does not lie in their spirit, but in their mind and affection of their soul.

5)    Believers should pursue diligently and let Christ in their spirit and infuse and change their soul so that they can achieve oneness in soul.

6)    No matter how spiritual a worker is, his emotion may unavoidably be affected by other believers.

7)    The real joy of the Lord’s workers is not the outer prosperity, but the true oneness of the church.

8)    Verse one is the source of verse two: consolation produces the same mind; the loving comfort produces the same love; the fellowship in spirit produces the same mind and thought.

9)    The oneness of the church not only pleases God but also pleases Him fully.


Phil. 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

YLT: “nothing in rivalry or vain-glory, but in humility of mind one another counting more excellent than yourselves --”

Meaning of Words: “selfish ambition”: be contentious, faction; “conceit”: self-glory, vain glory; “lowliness”: humiliation of mind, modesty; “esteem”: account; “better”: hold oneself above, excel;

Literal Meaning: “let nothing be done through selfish ambition”, it means that there is nothing according to selfish ambition or impartiality. “Selfish ambition”, it is the fleshly deeds (Gal. 5:20). Selfish ambition and conceit are the source that destroys the oneness of the church.

“In lowliness of mind”, it is lowliness in one’s mind, not feeling inferior. It is a kind of right self-estimation, not self-conceit, or self-boasting, or holding any position to oneself.

“Let each esteem others better than himself”, it is not lowly estimating one’s ability but accepting others humbly and approving others positively.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Man has a pair of eyes. Therefore, one should see him and see others at the same time and shall see the advantages more clearly.

2)    Believers should pay attention to himself: whether he has selfish ambition or whether he has exalt himself.

3)    If our opinions toward things or truth vary before different men, we must be affected by the “contentious” spirit.

4)    True glory is in surpassing measure and is unseen (2Cor. 4:17-18). What is manifest can be seen by many people ---- that is “vain glory”.

5)    If one clearly knows that his opinion is false and yet he still keeps it, he is a man “that covets for vain glory”, for he only regards his own reputation and the praise of others and ignores the approval of God.

6)    Once we covet for “vain glory”, we will lose the objectively just attitude and thus lust for vain glory instead for walking according to truth.

7)    “Let each esteem others better than himself”, it is a sign of lowliness. Only a humble man will find the advantages of others and know that he is less than others.

8)    If believers see the Christ (the advantages) in others and see the old man (the disadvantages) of themselves, they will esteem others better than themselves.

9)    Though some believers seem to be of no advantage, if we observe carefully, we will find that they always have some points better than others.

10) “In lowliness of mind”, it is the prescription for selfish ambition and conceit and is the most efficient way to achieve oneness. It is difficult for a conceited man to get along with others, so pride is the biggest obstacle to oneness.

11) Believers do not pretend to be “humble”, but are low in inner hearts. He who utters humble words may not have a humble heart.

12) He who says that “he” has some authority, or “he” ought to obtain something will never be humble.

13) “Lowliness”, it means that we shall humble us like the “carpet” which lies down on the earth and lets others feel soft and comfortable when walking on us.

14) “Lowliness” is the most difficult one among all the virtues. Satan becomes the devil because of its pride.

15) All the contentions among believers may happen because of either “selfish ambition or conceit” (lusting for vain glory) with no compromise.


Phil. 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

YLT: “each not to your own look ye, but each also to the things of others.”

Meaning of Words:look out”: concern, consider, look for;

Literal Meaning: it does not mean that a believer ought not to look out for his own interests, but that one should also consider the interests of others in the same mind.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    When we get along with brothers and sisters, we should esteem others better than ourselves (v.3) and look out for the interests of others.

2)    It is not “overlooking one’s own interests”, but not looking for one’s own interests “only”. If one does not look for his own interests, he is a lazy man. If one does not look for the interests of others, he is an arrogant and hardhearted man.

3)    Believers should look for the need of others. However, to the need of ourselves, we should not rely on the attendance of others in everything, but shall look after ourselves diligently and rely on the help of others.

4)    Many difficulties in the church are caused by our “selves”. And “self” is the shackle that is mostly difficult to be delivered from.

5)    Men in the world tend to harm others to benefit oneself (Ps. 49:18). Believers may deny themselves to benefit others. “Look for the interests of others”, it is a self-denied life.

6)    True “lowliness” is manifested in looking for the interests of others.

7)    “Look for the interests of others”, it saves both the members and oneself from loneliness. He who looks for the interests of others actually helps himself.

8)    God allows each of us to have more or less some defects. However, if all the members have the same concern one for another, the defects of everyone will be corrected.

9)    If the Lord is as indifferent as us who disregard others, you and I will not enjoy our present condition.


Phil. 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

YLT: “For, let this mind be in you that also in Christ Jesus,”

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    That believers let the mind of Christ be in them is the origin of the oneness of the church.

2)    We believers should firstly have the mind and thought of Christ, then we will have the mind and thought mentioned in verse one to four.

3)    Only those who let Christ’s mind of “emptying himself” in them will look for the interests of others.

4)    In the church, if each of us is oriented to Christ and looks upon Christ and lets His mind and His opinions and His Spirit and His way in us, there will be sweet and true fellowship and union.


Phil. 2:6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,

YLT: “who, being in the form of God, thought not robbery to be equal to God,”

Meaning of Words: “be”: come into existence, live; “form”: shape, nature; “robbery”: plunder, take by force, catch away, pluck;

The Background: many people believe verse six to eleven was a psalm in the early church which was applied and modified by Paul to express his faith and praise to Christ.

Literal Meaning:who, being in the form of God”, it indicates that in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9) and He has all the nature of “God”.

“To be equal with God”, it indicates that Christ is equal with God in position and in dignity.

“Did not consider it robbery”, it does not means that he is unwilling to reject his position and desires to keep it.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    He is willing to reject all the lawful rights ---- this is the mind of Christ Jesus.

2)    Man in the world is unwilling to forsake the rights he has obtained ---- it is the nature of sinners. However, in the church, there are also many believers who intrigue against each other for the sake of right. What shameful condition!

3)    Our Lord never says anything for his own right. Therefore, remember that no one of us can say anything for our own right.

4)    Christians do not seek not to own others only but also that we can bear others when they own us.

5)    The Lord’s obedience is towards the One who is “equal with” Him. However, we can often not obey the one who is greater than us (e.g. obey God).


Phil. 2:7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

YLT: “but did empty himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made,”

Meaning of Words: “made Himself of no reputation”: empty oneself, forsake oneself; “form”: image, likeness, resemblance, shape;

Literal Meaning:but made Himself of no reputation, made Himself of no reputation, it is a kind of metaphor, referring to Christ’s incarnation. He becomes man ---- on one hand, he has perfect humanity; on the other hand, he still has perfect deity. What He has forsaken is not His deity, but the glorious appearance and position (John 17:5).

“Taking the form of a bondservant, it indicates that Christ comes to the world according to the will of God and takes serving as his ministry (Matt. 20:28). It relates to His humbleness.

“And coming in the likeness of men”, it means that Christ not only takes the form of man but also has true humanity (John 1:14; Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:17). This phrase indicates that He is restricted in the physical body, e.g. he has to eat when he is hungry; and he has to sleep when he is tired.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Christ emptied Himself in order to serve us. All the workers who aim at serving the saints mostly need to empty themselves

2)    Many times, we cannot bear men’s despise or shame, for we are unwilling to empty us for the sake of the Lord.

3)    The one who empties himself more will has fewer requirements. He who has totally emptied himself will has no requirements at all.


Phil. 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

YLT: “and in fashion having been found as a man, he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death -- death even of a cross,”

Meaning of Words:appearance”: figure, fashion; “humble”: humiliate, abase, bring low; “obedient”: submissive;

Literal Meaning:to the point of death, it emphasizes the thorough and absolute obedience of Christ Jesus to God.

“Even the death of the cross”, (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 12:2), it points out the degree of the lowliness of Christ Jesus. The punishment of the cross is a kind of curse and a most humiliating way of putting to death (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 12:2).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Self-abasement and obedience are the most outstanding characteristics of Christ’s life (2Cor. 8:9). He pours out his soul unto death (Is.53:12).

2)    Self-abasement is inseparable from obedience. How much we humble us will decide how much we will obey.

3)    The more one appropriates the divine grace of God, the lower he will estimate himself.

4)    When the Lord came into the world, he emptied his glory equal with God. When the Lord died, he emptied all His precious blood.

5)    The Lord obeyed “to the point of death”. However, we cannot obey the Spirit wrestle against sin and resist unto blood (Heb. 12:4).


Phil. 2:9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,

YLT: “wherefore, also, God did highly exalt him, and gave to him a name that above every name,”

Meaning of Words: “highly exalt”: elevate above others, raise to the highest position;

Literal Meaning: “therefore”, it shows that verse six to eight is the reason.

God also has highly exalted Him”, He is exalted to an extremely high position and great power so that He becomes the one of the most honor.

“The name which is above every name”, the name represents one’s being and position, so it refers to the being and glorious position represented by the name of the “Lord Jesus Christ” (v.11).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The one who is exalted by God is the one who humbles himself. It is the way of Christ ---- humiliation first and then elevation.

2)    The Lord was not highly exalted on the mountain, but on the lowest cross. The way of the cross is suffering first and glory afterwards (Rom. 8:17).

3)    The cross is the turning point from the Lord’s lowliness to exultation. The cross is also the standard of “our lowliness” and the measure of whether we can be exalted by God.

4)    God highly exalts the Lord because of the Lord’s humiliation. God gives Him the name which is above every name.

5)    Reputation is set for “the one who does not seek reputation”..

6)    The position of a man in the church does not lie in man’s praise but in the judgment of God.

7)    When we are put in a humble position, we shall be glad and joyful, for this is a chance of being exalted by God.


Phil. 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

YLT: “that in the name of Jesus every knee may bow -- of heavenlies, and earthlies, and what are under the earth --”

Meaning of Words: “bow”: camel;

Literal Meaning:heaven”, where Christ had humbled himself;

  “Earth”, where Christ had suffered himself;

  “Under the earth”, the realm that Christ had conquered over;

“Every”, it refers to all things in the universe, including everything;

“Bow the knee”: worship;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The absolute obedience of the Lord Jesus makes “all” bow the knees toward Him. Therefore, the degree of obedience decides the degree of subduing others.

2)    Those who despised Jesus, or who were hostile to Jesus or those who killed Jesus shall now bow the knees toward Jesus. Man’s ignorance often makes him repent his doing.


Phil. 2:11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

YLT: “and every tongue may confess that Jesus Christ Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Meaning of Words: “confess”: acknowledge, agree fully;

Literal Meaning:confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”: give in His submission;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    “Every”, it shows that no one is exceptional. If we do not confess that Jesus Christ is Lord joyfully, we still have to confess that He is Lord before the tribunal.

2)    The elevation of Christ is giving glory unto God. All those who do not magnify the Lord come short of the glory of God.

3)    “The glory of God”, it should be the principle and driving force of believers’ life and work. If we are motivated by “the glory of God”, we will be willing to do everything and do better.


Phil. 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

YLT: “So that, my beloved, as ye always obey, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, with fear and trembling your own salvation work out,”

Meaning of Words:fear”: alarm, fright; “trembling”: quaking with fear; “work out”: perform, accomplish, do work fully; “salvation”: health, safety, rescue;

Literal Meaning: “therefore”, it continues from the preceding paragraph, showing that the follow verses (v.12-18) tell us that how to “let the mind of Christ be in us” in practical life.

“Obeyed, it is not obedience to men, but to the teaching of the apostle in the spirit of obeying God.

“With fear and trembling”, “fear”: the fear of God; “trembling”: the lack of confidence to oneself; “fear and trembling”, it is not doubt or fear, but that one puts down his confidence to rely on the source of power in a fearing and single heart.

“Work out your own salvation”, “work out”: labor unto the end; it does not mean that we can earn salvation by our works but that we can present the reality of faith after we have been saved through the life of God, that is to say, we manifest the salvation worked by God in us by our works.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    God has not saved us to uncleanness, but in sanctification.

2)    Since the Lord Jesus whom we believe is obedient, we believers should also become obedient likewise and thus live out the salvation of God.

3)    “Work out” the salvation, it is not that we do some works, but that we shall obey and obey with fear and trembling. The heart of obedience is the starting point of believers’ working out the salvation.

4)    Believers shall obey the teachings in the Scriptures with diligence ---- not only obey before men (especially before the preachers) but also obey at any time.

5)    Believers should pay heed to their performances in spiritual life before those who lead them. Besides, even though there is no one around them, they shall still be responsible to the Lord directly (see Col. 3:22-23).

6)    Though we cannot be saved by good works, we can fulfill the goodwill of God by good works.

7)    When we believers work out the salvation of God, we must be with “fear and trembling”. If we are too confident or flippant, the will of God on us cannot be fulfilled (Eph. 2:10).

8)    If the church keeps unity with diligence to avoid any division, that is working out our salvation.

9)    Only when believers deal with the spiritual diseases ---- selfishness and self-pride ---- can they recover (the original meaning of the word “salvation”) the oneness of the church.


Phil. 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

YLT: “for God it is who is working in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Meaning of Words: “work”: be active, be mighty in, show forth self;

Literal Meaning:to will and to do”, “will”: the internal determination, “do”: the external works; it means doing according to the internal determination. 

  “It is God who works in you”, it means that both the internal “will” and external “doing” are according to the “working” of God.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    We need not to fear that we cannot work out the salvation, for it is the work of God.

2)    God’s “working in” is before our “working out”. We work out the power of salvation by the working of God in us.

3)    When God “works” in us and we “work” out, it is really labor-saving. However, if God does not work in us and we are still laboring, it is so laborious.

4)    Believers need only to obey the working of God in us, for it is the working of the might of his strength. Besides, God must be fully responsible to us.

5)    God desires that men work with Him together, so it requires both the working of the might of his strength as well as the will and working of men.

6)    God does not desire us to be robots that we have no desire but are totally forced by God.

7)    Many believers will according to the working of God and yet work by their own strength instead of the “working” of God, so they often fail.

8)    The good pleasure of God is making us live out the salvation that we have obtained.


Phil. 2:14 Do all things without complaining and disputing,

YLT: “All things do without murmurings and reasonings,”

Meaning of Words:complaine”: grumbling, murmuring; “dispute”: doubt, debate;

Literal Meaning: “do all things”: all the works; “do”: the present tense shows that it is done frequently and habitually, not a certain time.

“Complaining”, be disobedient to God and be unjust to men; obey not the arrangement of God and receive not the treatment of others;

“Disputing”: argue continually for thins that are doubtful (Rom. 14:1);

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Man’s complaining is caused by his dissatisfaction with the present condition, which indicates that he has not learned obedience nor worked out the salvation.

2)    When the Lord was on the earth, he was often improperly treated by others and he bore it without any complaining. He who lets the mind of Christ in him shall also receive the improper treatment of others without complaining.

3)    One who does not see backwards but sees upwards and forwards will never complain. One who does not complain is a man who has the best faith in God.

4)    Dispute manifests that one sticks stubbornly to his opinion and is unwilling to accept the views of others. It is the starting point of destroying the life of members and is most easily making others stumbled.

5)    It is not do one thing without complaining and disputing, but do all things.


Phil. 2:15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

YLT: “that ye may become blameless and harmless, children of God, unblemished in the midst of a generation crooked and perverse, among whom ye do appear as luminaries in the world,”

Meaning of Words:harmless”: unmixed, innocent, simple, pure; “crooked”: warped, wind; “perverse”: distort, corrupt, turn away; “light”: luminary, brilliancy; “shine”: lighten, appear, be seen;

Literal Meaning:become blameless and harmless, it does not mean sinless perfection, but refers to the whole and simple desire of keeping the will of God. “Blameless”, it means that one has not done any external deeds that may cause slander of others; “harmless”, it points that one’s inner heart should be pure without any impurity.

“Crooked”, it describes the wickedness of the world makes men difficult to discern what is right or wrong.

“Perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”, the world distorts the truth and thus makes men unable to discern what is right or wrong and disobey the will of God.

  “Children of God without fault”, the children have the life of their father. Here it indicates that our “faultlessness” is from the life of God.

  “Shine as lights”, it is the manifestation of life (John 1:4);

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    This generation “measures all truth by selfishness” without any uprightness. Therefore, the generation is crooked and perverse.

2)    The generation will be increasingly crooked and perverse. Therefore, when we Christians live in the world, we shall not walk according to the age of the world nor join in the evil-doing, but shall stand firmly by the grace of the Lord and lead men of the world to the real truth. This is the responsibility of Christians.

3)    Believers are the light in the world that shines and bears witness to the world. The life of the one who is of Christ should be luminous.

4)    The light of believers is not shone directly, but reflects the glory of the Lord (2Cor. 3:18). Only those who have intimate fellowship with the Lord will shine the light of life.

5)    The responsibility of believers is making the world see that God is the absolute standard in our life and He is the changeless truth in the universe.


Phil. 2:16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

YLT: “the word of life holding forth, for rejoicing to me in regard to a day of Christ, that not in vain did I run, nor in vain did I labour;”

Meaning of Words: “hold fast”: hold upon, detain, retain, pay attention to;

Literal Meaning:holding fast the word of life, “the word of life”, it is the gospel ---- the message of giving men new life; “holding fast the word of life, it means “conducting oneself worthily of the glad tidings of Christ” (Phil. 1:27).

“The day of Christ”, it refers to the day when Christ comes again to reign. 

“Run in vain”, “run”: toil for the sake of the preachment of the gospel (Rom. 10:15);

“Labored in vain”, “labor”: labor for the works of the Lord (1Cor.15:58);

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The word of life that believers have received should be manifested through life so that men will see it.

2)    “The word of life” works in believers. Believers need only to obey the working of the word of life and then conduct so that they can “hold fast” the word of life.

3)    The most important work of a preacher is implanting “the word of life” in the hearts of believers. Each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor (see 1Cor. 3:6-8).


Phil. 2:17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.

YLT: “but if also I am poured forth upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and joy with you all,”

Meaning of Words:offering”: sacrifice, oblation; “be poured out”: pour out as a libation, devote one’s life or blood, as a sacrifice, be offered;

Literal Meaning: men in the old times often offered the drink offering (Ex. 29:38-41; Num. 28:7). Paul here takes believers in Philippi as the sacrifice offered to God and takes his blood as the drink offering. Here he means that he is willing to sacrifice his life. 

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    A true worker must be willing to pour out “his life” for the church and take it as the most joy in his life.

2)    Once a true worker sees that believers have the willingness of devotion (Rom. 12:1), he is even willing to forfeit his life.

3)    A worker who serves the Lord faithfully does not rejoice in materials or praises of others, but rejoices in the effect of his labor on others.


Phil. 2:18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

YLT: “because of this do ye also rejoice and joy with me.”

Literal Meaning: Paul exhorts the Philippians to follow his example ---- he is willing to sacrifice himself to profit their spirit and establish their faith and he takes it as his joy.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Christians should share their joy with one another.

2)    We should rejoice in the joy of others.


Phil. 2:19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.

YLT: “And I hope, in the Lord Jesus, Timotheus to send quickly to you, that I also may be of good spirit, having known the things concerning you,”

Meaning of Words: “send”: dispatch;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Paul “trusts in the Lord Jesus” ---- he hopes everything in the Lord Jesus.

2)    Paul does not send his fellow worker according to his own will, but acts after knowing the Lord’s will in Him.

3)    Though there is no difference in classes among the fellow workers, there is the difference in the Lord between young and old and in functions.


Phil. 2:20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.

YLT: “for I have no one like-minded, who sincerely for the things concerning you will care,”

Meaning of Words:like-minded”: of similar spirit; “sincerely”: genuinely, naturally;

Literal Meaning:care for your state”, it refers to the concern about the church; here the like-minded ones Paul mentions are men who care for things about the church together.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    What is most important to the fellow workers is of “the same mind”. However, how difficult it is to meet a fellow worker like-minded!

2)    Paul is concerned about the care of all the churches everyday (2Cor. 11:28). One who really lets the mind of Christ Jesus in him must be concerned about things of all the saints, namely, the things of the churches.

3)    There are many workers who do the Lord’s works. However, it is indeed that there are few that care for the things of the church.

4)    If the workers lack cares for the church, what they have done will have no true value.

5)    Though whether one “cares” for the church is a kind of inner emotion, men can know it from his performance (e.g. prayer).


Phil. 2:21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.

YLT: “for the whole seek their own things, not the things of the Christ Jesus,”

Meaning of Words: “seek”: pursue, plan;

Literal Meaning:the things which are of Christ Jesus”: that is “your state” mentioned previously (v.19-20), namely, things in the church;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Many preachers seek the development of their works and declare in their mouths that it is for the “Lord” but actually for “their own”.

2)    If the worker only seeks his own profit, though he has worked, he may not be willing to fully devote them to do the work. Therefore, he may not do well.

3)    The Lord’s works require all the workers commit themselves to the works. If the workers lack the earnestness in the workers, they may seek their own profit, not that of Jesus Christ.


Phil. 2:22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.

YLT: “and the proof of him ye know, that as a child a father, with me he did serve in regard to the good news;”

Meaning of Words: “serve with”: be a slave to serve the master;

Literal Meaning:proven character”, it means that he is proved as such a man. Timothy and Paul are intimate just like the father and his son (1Cor. 4:17; Gal. 4:19; 1Thess. 2:11; Philem. 10).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The elder fellow workers should “guide and support” young workers. And the young workers should “honor” the elder fellow workers.

2)    The relationship of the fellow workers should not be established in profits, but in life and love. The former can keep transiently and yet the latter can keep long.


Phil. 2:23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.

YLT: “him, indeed, therefore, I hope to send, when I may see through the things concerning me -- immediately;”

Literal Meaning: at this time, the interrogation of Paul was impending, and he needed Timothy. When the case was decided, he would soon send Timothy to Philippi.


Phil. 2:24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.

YLT: “and I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall quickly come.”

Literal Meaning: Paul here suggested that he believed that he would be released soon.


Phil. 2:25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need;

YLT: “And I thought necessary Epaphroditus -- my brother, and fellow-workman, and fellow-soldier, and your apostle and servant to my need -- to send unto you,”

Meaning of Words: “consider”: account, esteem, suppose; “messenger”: apostle, he that is sent; “minister”: servant;

The Background:minister”, it in the original refers to the one who takes his own money to do public service. This was an honorable

 name at that time.

Literal Meaning: here Paul mentioned his relationship with Epaphroditus in five aspects: 1) “my brother” ---- the relationship in spiritual life; 2) “fellow worker” ---- the relationship in service; 3) “fellow soldier” ---- it refers to the relationship in spiritual war; 4) “your messenger” ---- the joining relationship because of the sending of the church; 5) “the one who ministered to my need” ---- the supporting relationship in materials;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The church in Philippi sent Epaphroditus to minister to Paul’s need. However, what he has really serviced exceeds what he should be responsible for. He is truly a good and laborious worker.

2)    Though Epaphroditus ministered to the need of Paul on behalf of the church in Philippi, he did not do it arrogantly and Paul was not servile to him because of money. Their fellowship was truly beautiful. 


Phil. 2:26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.

YLT: “seeing he was longing after you all, and in heaviness, because ye heard that he ailed,”

Meaning of Words:was distressed”: be very heavy, be full of heaviness; 

Literal Meaning: the church in Philippi sent Epaphroditus to minister to Paul’s need. Besides, the church might also send him to stay with Paul to look after him. However, now his sickness was too serious to fulfill the divine task, so he was distressed.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Epaphroditus fell ill for the sake of the labor for the Lord. He had not rebuked others for not caring for him, but feared that others may be concerned about him. He is really a self-forgotten one.

2)    What the Lord’s worker is concerned about is not his safety, whether the church has suffered loss because of him.


Phil. 2:27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

YLT: “for he also ailed nigh to death, but God did deal kindly with him, and not with him only, but also with me, that sorrow upon sorrow I might not have.”

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    One who was sick almost unto death did not care for his own condition but was concerned about the church (see v.26), just like Christ who emptied himself.

2)    Blessed the merciful, for they shall find mercy (Matt. 5:7).

3)    It is easy to rejoice with believers and fellow workers, but it is difficult to suffer with them.

4)    Many times, God allows that believers fall ill seriously for the purpose of making him experience the mercy of God deeper.


Phil. 2:28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful.

YLT: “The more eagerly, therefore, I did send him, that having seen him again ye may rejoice, and I may be the less sorrowful;”

Literal Meaning: Paul sent Epaphroditus back so as to avoid three aspects of sorrow: 1) the sorrow of the church in Philippi; 2) the sorrow of Epaphroditus; 3) the sorrow of Paul;

  “Sorrow”, it refers to the right concern and sorrow produced by the life and service of Christians.


Phil. 2:29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem;

YLT: “receive him, therefore, in the Lord, with all joy, and hold such in honour,”

Literal Meaning: it means that the church in Philippi should confess that the position of Epaphroditus as a servant of God and the work he has done in the Lord are worthy of joyful and earnest acceptance of the church.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Both the church and the worker ---- the one who receives and the other one who is received ---- have their responsibility respectively. The church shall receive the worker well. And the worker should be faithful to the service so that he is worthy of good reception.

2)    Only those who are sorrowful because of the sorrow of others are worthy of the honor and reception of others.

3)    Many preachers do not honor other preachers, but they still teach believers to honor preachers. They are modern Pharisees who say and do not (Matt. 23:2-12).


Phil. 2:30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.

YLT: “because on account of the work of the Christ he drew near to death, having hazarded the life that he might fill up your deficiency of service unto me.”

Literal Meaning:because for the work of Christ”, it indicates that he forsakes the works in the world for the work of the Lord.

“To supply what was lacking in your service toward me”, the church in Philippi helped Paul by providing money. Now, the service of Epaphroditus and the works done for Christ had supplied what was lacking in their service, which made Paul joyful.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    In the church, many people like to pick on “what is lacking” of others, but few are willing to “supply” the lack and deficiency of others.

2)    Only those who do “the work of Christ” ---- fulfill the will that Christ sacrificed himself for the church ---- and do not regard their own life can fill up that which is behind of the tribulations of Christ for the church (Col. 1:24).

3)    Many believers think serving the Lord is more important than serving men. However, they do not know that if one serves men in the mind of serving the Lord, he is serving the Lord.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


The Manifestations of the Unity of the Church (v.1-2)

A.   Consolation in Christ;

B.   Comfort of love;

C.   Fellowship of the Spirit;

D.   Affection and mercy;

E.   The same mind, love and thought;


The Elements of Hindering the Unity of the Church (v.3-4)

A.   Selfish ambition;

B.   Conceit;

C.   Pride;

D.   Selfishness;


The Mind of Christ Jesus

A.   Not keep the glory supposed to Him (v.6);

B.   Empty himself to serve men (v.7);

C.   Became obedient to God to the point of death (v.8);


Eight Steps of the Lowliness of Christ Jesus (v.6-8)

A.   Do not consider it robbery to be equal with God

B.   But made Himself of no reputation

C.   Taking the form of a bondservant;

D.   And coming in the likeness of men;

E.   Humbled Himself;

F.    Became obedient;

G.   To the point of death;

H.   Even the death of the cross;


The Elevation of Christ Jesus (v.9-11)

A.   God also has highly exalted Him;

B.   And God has given Him the name which is above every name;

C.   That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow;

D.   That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord;

E.   To the glory of God the Father;


The Fundamental Elements of Working out the Salvation

A.   The mind of Christ Jesus (v.5);

B.   God works in our heart (v.13);

C.   The word of life (v.16);


The Obedience of Christians

A.   The heart of obedience ---- like Christ Jesus(v.8);

B.   The time of obedience ---- always, no matter the preachers is present or absent (v.12);

C.   The attitude of obedience ---- fear and trembling (v.12);

D.   The object of obedience ---- God works in them (v.13);

E.   The manifestation of obedience ---- without complaining and disputing (v.14);

F.    The result of obedience ---- shine as lights (v.15);


How Can Believers Appear as Lights?

A.   To God ---- obey the working of God is us (v.12-13);

B.   To men ---- blameless (v.14-15);

C.   To oneself ---- harmless (v.15);

D.   Way ---- hold fast the word of life (v.16);


Three Responsibilities of Christians

A.   To God ---- children of God without fault (v.12-13);

B.   To men in the world ---- shine as lights in the world and hold fast the word of life (v.15-16);

C.   To preachers ---- being poured out on the sacrifice and service of faith (v.17);


The Relationship of Believers with the Preachers

A.   No matter the preachers are present or absent, believers are obedient (v.12).

B.   The growth of believers is the boasting of the ministers (v.16).

C.   The faith of believers is the sacrifice of the preachers’ offering (v.17a).

D.   The preachers desire to be poured out for the faith of believers (v.17b).

E.   Believers and preachers rejoice for their conditions of one another (v.18).

F.    The preachers are concerned about things of believers (v.20, 26).

G.   Believers shall honor the preachers who are faithful (v.29-30)


Paul’s Joy and Sorrow

A.   Believers perform their functions in the world for the glory on that day (v.16).

B.   Even though he is poured out, he still desires that the faith of believers is accepted (v.17).

C.   Rejoice with believers (v.18).

D.   Grieve for the grief of believers, and rejoice at the joy of believers (v.27-29).


The Model of Timothy

A.   Obey the sending of the elder fellow workers (v.19);

B.   Be of the same mind with the fellow workers (v.20);

C.   Be concerned about things of the church and all the saints (v.20);

D.   Seek the things which are of Christ Jesus (v.21);

E.   Serve in the gospel (v.22);

F.    Treat the elder fellow worker as the father (v.22);


The Model of Epaphroditus

A.   Work in any place where he went to (v.25);

B.   Be close to the fellow workers as to brothers (v.25);

C.   Do the work as fight in the war and make all his efforts (v.25);

D.   Be trusted and sent by the church (v.25);

E.   He remembered the saints (v.26);

F.    Be distressed because all the saints had heard that he was sick (v.26);

G.   Not regard his life for the work of Christ (v.30).

H.   He exceeded the mission given by the church to supply what was lacking in the service (v.30).


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Mary Zhou