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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
Ver. 1. With the bishops and deacons. By bishops many understand those who were only priests; for the name of priests, at that time, was common to those who were by their ordination priests or bishops, though the order as well as the functions were different. S. Chrys. also takes notice, that the name of deacon then signified any minister of Christ. S. Paul also might mean the bishops, or priests and deacons, not only of Philippi, but also of the adjacent places. Wi.
Ver. 5. For your fellowship. This word is divers times used by S. Paul for a contribution of charitable alms, which it may also signify in this place; though others expound it of their being made partakers of the graces of Christ, by the gospel. Wi.
Ver. 7. In the defence, &c. being then a prisoner, waiting for his trial; and the defence he could make for himself, and the sentence of the judge. Wi.
Ver. 9. That your charity, &c. It is worthy of remark, that S. Paul does not beg that the Philippians may enjoy temporal blessings, but that they may be rewarded with an increase of spiritual favours; (Cal.) and as he remarks in the succeeding verses, that they may be filled with the fruits of justice.
Ver. 12. Now I desire, &c. From hence it appears, that what was intended as the greatest hindrance to the propagation of the Christian religion, eventually proved the most direct method of extending it. S. Paul was not less zealous in prison, and in chains, than when he laboured under no obstacles to his designs: how much the reverse is the conduct of our late reformers!
Ver. 13. In all the court, or in the whole palace of the emperor, and to all others, or in all other places at and near Rome. Wi.
Ver. 14. And many of, &c. encouraged by the intrepidity and perseverance of the apostle. Calmet. — Knowing that sufferings undergone for the cause of Jesus Christ were most honourable, and the portion truly enviable of all the saints, as by sufferings they were known to be his disciples, and by sufferings they were to purchase that eternal weight of glory prepared for all that suffer patiently and joyfully for God's sake.
Ver. 15. Some . . . out of envy and contention publish and preach Christ, thinking perhaps that this would displease me, or exasperate my persecutors against me; but whatever their motive be, if they preach the true doctrine of Christ, I rejoice. Wi.
Ver. 19. I know that this shall turn to my salvation, &c. It may either signify to his spiritual good and the salvation of his soul, or to his safety and deliverance out of prison: if this was his first imprisonment. Wi.
Ver. 20. Whether it be by life, or by death. To live longer, if God pleaseth, or to suffer death at this time, he shews himself resigned to either. Wi.
Ver. 21. To live is Christ. If it be his will that I live, my life shall be spent in his service. — To die, and suffer martyrdom, will be my gain, by coming to the enjoyment of Christ sooner. Wi.
Ver. 22. This is to me, &c. His meaning is, that although his dying immediately for Christ, would be his gain, by putting him presently in possession of heaven; yet he is doubtful what he should choose, because by staying longer in the flesh, he should be more beneficial to the souls of his neighbours. Ch. — What I shall choose I know not: though my earnest desire is to be dissolved from this mortal body, and to be with Christ, as my greater happiness, yet if it be the will of God that I labour longer, as necessary for your good, and that I again come to you, let God dispose of me according to his holy will. Wi.
Ver. 25-26. And having this confidence. In effect S. Paul escaped this first danger, for after having remained two years at Rome, he was taken from his confinement. Calmet. — I know (or am persuaded, as in the Greek) that I shall remain . . . by my coming to you again. This is one argument that this epistle was written during his first imprisonment at Rome: yet this is not agreed upon by the interpreters, and especially whether he ever returned again to Philippi. Wi.
Ver. 27, &c. Whether when I come, and see you, &c. This implies a doubt of his seeing them again. At least endeavour you to lead a life worthy of the gospel, according to the principles of your faith; and be not terrified by your adversaries and persecutors: God permits this for your salvation, though an occasion of perdition to your persecutors: you having the like to combat as you have seen in me, when whipped at Philippi. See Acts xvi. Wi.
Ver. 28. The adversaries. Either by the persecutions of the Jews and Gentiles, or by the doctrine of false brethren.