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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Philippians 1:12-17

Commentary On Philippians Colossians And Thessalonians by Jean Calvin

Philippians 1:12-17

12. But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

12. Scire autem vos volo, fratres, quod, quae mihi acciderunt, magis in profectum cesserunt Evangelii,

13. So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

13. Ut vincula mea in Christo illustria fuerint in toto praetorio, et reliquis omnibus locis:

14. And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

14. Et multi ex fratribus in Domino, vinculis meis confisi, uberius ausi fuerint absque timore sermonem Dei loqui.

15. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:

15. Nonnulli quidem per invidiam et contentionem, alii autem etiam per benevolentiam, Christum praedicant.

16. The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:

16. Alii, inquam, ex contentione Christum annuntiant, non pure, existimantes afflictionem se suscitare meis vinculis:

17. But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.

17. Alii autem ex caritate, scientes quod in defensionem Evangelii positus sim.

12 But I wish you to know We all know from our own experience, how much the flesh is wont to be offended by the abasement of the cross. We allow, indeed, Christ crucified to be preached to us; but when he appears in connection with his cross, then, as though we were thunderstruck at the novelty of it, we either avoid him or hold him in abhorrence, and that not merely in our own persons, but also in the persons of those who deliver to us the gospel. It may have happened to the Philippians, that they were in some degree discouraged in consequence of the persecution of their Apostle. We may also very readily believe, that those bad workmen who eagerly watched every occasion, however small, of doing injury, did not refrain from triumphing over the calamity of this holy man, and by this means making his gospel contemptible. If, however, they were not successful in this attempt, they might very readily calumniate him by representing him as hated by the whole world; and at the same time leading the Philippians to dread, lest, by an unfortunate association with him, they should needlessly incur great dislike among all; for such are the usual artifices of Satan. The Apostle provides against this danger, when he states that the gospel had been promoted by means of his bonds. The design, accordingly, of this detail is, to encourage the Philippians, that they may not feel deterred by the persecution endured by him.

13 So that my bonds He employs the expression -- in Christ, to mean, in the affairs, or in the cause of Christ, for he intimates that his bonds had become illustrious, so as to promote the honor of Christ. The rendering given by some -- through Christ, seems forced. I have also employed the word illustria (illustrious) in preference to manifesta, (manifest,) -- as having ennobled the gospel by their fame. |Satan, indeed, has attempted it, and the wicked have thought that it would turn out so, that the gospel would be destroyed; but God has frustrated both the attempts of the former and the expectations of the latter, and that in two ways, for while the gospel was previously obscure and unknown, it has come to be well known, and not only so, but has even been rendered honorable in the Praetorium, no less than in the rest of the city.| By the praetorium I understand the hall and palace of Nero, which Fabius and writers of that age call Augustale, (the Augustal.) For as the name praetor was at first a general term, and denoted all magistrates who held the chief sway, (hence it came that the dictator was called the sovereign praetor, ) it, consequently, became customary to employ the term praetorium in war to mean the tent, either of the consul, or of the person who presided, while in the city it denoted the palace of Caesar, from the time that the Cesars took possession of the monarchy. Independently of this, the bench of praetor is also called the praetorium

14 Many of the brethren. By this instance we are taught that the tortures of the saints, endured by them in behalf of the gospel, are a ground of confidence to us. It were indeed a dreadful spectacle, and such as might tend rather to dishearten us, did we see nothing but the cruelty and rage of the persecutors. When, however, we see at the same time the hand of the Lord, which makes his people unconquerable, under the infirmity of the Cross, and causes them to triumph, relying upon this, we ought to venture farther than we had been accustomed, having now a pledge of our victory in the persons of our brethren. The knowledge of this ought to overcome our fears, that we may speak boldly in the midst of dangers.

15 Some indeed. Here is another fruit of Paul's bonds, that not only were the brethren stirred up to confidence by his example -- some by maintaining their position, others by becoming more eager to teach -- but even those who wished him evil were on another account stirred up to publish the gospel.

16 Some, I say, from contention. Here we have a lengthened detail, in which he explains more fully the foregoing statement; for he repeats that there are two classes of men that are stirred up by his bonds to preach Christ -- the one influenced by contention, that is, by depraved affection -- the other by pious zeal, as being desirous to maintain along with him the defense of the gospel. The former, he says, do not preach Christ purely, because it was not a right zeal. For the term does not apply to doctrine, because it is possible that the man who teaches most purely, may, nevertheless, not be of a sincere mind. Now, that this impurity was in the mind, and did not shew itself in doctrine, may be inferred from the context. Paul assuredly would have felt no pleasure in seeing the gospel corrupted; yet he declares that he rejoices in the preaching of those persons, while it was not simple or sincere.

It is asked, however, how such preaching could be injurious to him? I answer, that many occasions are unknown to us, inasmuch as we are not acquainted with the circumstances of the times. It is asked farther, |Since the gospel cannot be preached but by those that understand it, what motive induced those persons to persecute the doctrine of which they approved?| I answer, that ambition is blind, nay, it is a furious beast. Hence it is not to be wondered if false brethren snatch a weapon from the gospel for harassing good and pious pastors. Paul, assuredly, says nothing here of which I have not myself had experience. For there are living at this very day those who have preached the gospel with no other design, than that they might gratify the rage of the wicked by persecuting pious pastors. As to Paul's enemies, it is of importance to observe, if they were Jews, how mad their hatred was, so as even to forget on what account they hated him. For while they made it their aim to destroy him, they exerted themselves to promote the gospel, on account of which they were hostile to him; but they imagined, no doubt, that the cause of Christ would stand or fall in the person of one individual. If, however, there were envious persons, who were thus hurried away by ambition, we ought to acknowledge the wonderful goodness of God, who, notwithstanding, gave such a prosperous issue to their depraved affections.

17 That for the defense. Those who truly loved Christ reckoned that it would be a disgrace to them if they did not associate themselves with Paul as his companions, when maintaining the cause of the gospel; and we must act in such a manner, as to give a helping hand, as far as possible, to the servants of Christ when in difficulty. Observe, again, this expression -- for the defense of the gospel For since Christ confers upon us so great an honor, what excuse shall we have, if we shall be traitors to his cause, or what may we expect, if we betray it by our silence, but that he shall in return desert our cause, who is our sole Advocate, or Patron, with the Father? (1 John 2:1.)

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