But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly
The apostle proceeds to the last part of this epistle, and to take notice of the present which these Philippians had sent him, on account of which this his rejoicing was; and which was not small but great, and was not of a carnal but spiritual kind; it was a joy in the Holy Ghost, which is opposed to meats and drinks, and earthly enjoyments; it was a joy in the Lord; "in our Lord", as the Syriac version renders it; it was not so much on account of the nature, substance, quantity or quality of the things sent him, and the suitableness of them to his present necessity; but because this thing was of the Lord, he had put it into their hearts to do it, and had given them not only ability, but a willing mind, and had wrought in them both to will and to do; and because what they did they did for the sake of Christ, and to him as an apostle of his, and in obedience to Christ, and with a view to promote his cause and interest, honour and glory: that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again;
which supposes that they had formerly, at the first preaching of the Gospel, showed great respect to him, and took great care of him, as appears from ( Philippians 4:15 Philippians 4:16 ) , but that for some time past, and it seems for a considerable while, they had dropped it, or at least had not shown it; but that now it revived again, and was seen in the present they had now sent him. The allusion is to trees, which in the summer season bear much fruit, in autumn cast their leaves, and in the winter are entirely bare, and in the spring of the year revive again, and put forth leaves and fruit: and just so it is with the saints, they are compared to trees, and are called trees of righteousness, ( Isaiah 61:3 ) , and are fruitful ones, ( Jeremiah 23:3 ) ; but they have their winter seasons, when they are barren and unfruitful, and look as if they were dead; but when it is a spring time with them they revive again, as in the exercise of their faith and hope in Christ, so of their love to him, and to one another, and the ministers of the Gospel; when the south wind of the Spirit blows, the sun of righteousness arises, and, the dews of divine grace fall upon them; and such a revival was now in this church; and this was what the apostle so much rejoiced in, not so much for the gift bestowed on him, as for the fruit that appeared in them; see ( Philippians 4:17 ) ; but whereas he had said that this care of him flourished again, "at last"; lest this should be thought as finding fault with them, and bringing a charge against them, he corrects himself by adding, wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity;
signifying that he believed they had entertained the same sentiments of him, had the same affection and inward care for him all along; but they had no opportunity of showing it, he being at such a distance, and they having no convenient or proper persons to send to him; or were hindered through multiplicity of business on their hands, that they could not attend to him; and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "but ye were busied", or taken up and employed in business; or it was for want of ability; for the words will bear to be rendered, "but ye lacked ability"; and to this sense does the Syriac version render it, (Nwtywh Nyqpo al ala) , "but ye were not sufficient"; or had not a sufficiency, were not able to do it, and therefore to be easily excused.