SUMMARY.--Greetings to the Church and Its Officers. Reasons for Thanksgiving. The Progress of the Gospel in Rome. Different Motives for Preaching the Gospel. The Apostle's Desire to Depart and Be with Christ. Exhortations to Unity and Fortitude.
15-18. Some, indeed, preach Christ even of envy. The motives of all preachers are not pure. Some still preach Christ, full of envy for other preachers, and some from a love of strife. Those envious of Paul were probably Judaizing Christians. See next verse . 16. The one preach Christ from contention. Not from sincere love of the gospel, but from a factious spirit. While preaching, they sought to undermine Paul's influence, supposing to add affliction to his bonds. For an illustration of this class, read the first and second chapters of Galatians , 17. The other of love. These are the true and earnest preachers. They knew that Paul was not sent to Rome because he was an evil doer, but because he was set for the defense of the gospel. God had sent him there to preach it. 18. What then? So anxious is he to have Christ preached, that, whatever may be the motives of men, whether their zeal is only a pretence or in truth, still if only Christ is preached, he will rejoice. This is not a sanction of a false gospel (see Gal. 1:8 ), nor of the men themselves, but rejoicing, if by any means the knowledge of Christ is spread. How different this glorious unselfishness, and greatness of spirit, from the narrowness of those who higgle over "plans" and forbid "those who walk not with them!"
19-21. For I know that this, etc. All this envy and opposition will tend to promote his salvation. He will be delivered by God who will hear their prayers, and who will strengthen and direct him by the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 20. That in nothing shall I be ashamed. Whatever may come, whether his bonds lead to death or life, his trust is that the Spirit will give him such boldness that Christ shall be magnified. There is no anxiety about himself, only that he may glorify Christ. 21. For to me to live is Christ. Should he be suffered to live, his life would be for extending the kingdom of Christ, but personally, to die would be gain; a release from sufferings and an entrance upon eternal joys.
22-26. But if I live in the flesh. In the body; i. e., on earth. In this state the fruit of his labor is Christ. See verse 21 . Yet what I shall choose. He can hardly tell whether he would choose the gain of death, or to continue to live in order that he may work for Christ. 23. Having a desire to depart. His feelings would lead him to choose to depart from the flesh (see verse 24 ), and to be with Christ. Note that with Paul to depart from the flesh, the body, is followed by going immediately to Christ. 24. Nevertheless. Though it is better to depart and dwell with Christ, the brethren need him in the flesh. That is the reason why he is in the strait ( verse 23 ). 25. And having this confidence. Rather, "Being fully persuaded of this." Sure that he is needed on earth by the churches, he has no doubt that he will be delivered from his present danger and abide and continue, live to further their faith. 26. That your rejoicing. Nay, he is assured that the Philippians will rejoice over a visit from him. There is every reason to believe that his confidence was justified; that he was released and did again visit Philippi.
27-30. Only let your conversation. Your manner of life. Whether absent, or present, he wishes to know that they are perfectly united. 28. And in nothing terrified by your adversaries. Probably there had been another outbreak of heathen violence at Philippi such as Paul and Silas endured ( Acts 16:19-24 ). Which is to them. Your courage. When they see that they cannot terrify or overcome you, it will be a token to them of the ruin which will befall them, but an assurance to you of your salvation, through the help of God. 29. For to you it is given. Two things were granted: (1) The privilege of believing in Christ. (2) That of suffering for Christ. Such was the lot of all ancient Christians. See Hebrews 12:3 Hebrews 12:4 Hebrews 12:1 4 . 30. Having the same conflict which ye saw in me. You saw when I was at Philippi what I had to endure ( Acts 16:19 ); you hear that I am now a prisoner threatened with death. You must expect similar conflicts and meet them with fortitude.