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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Philippians 2

Exhortations to a kind, humble spirit and behaviour. (1-4) The example of Christ. (5-11) Diligence in the affairs of salvation, and to be examples to the world. (12-18) The apostle’s purpose of visiting Philippi. (19-30)

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Exhortations to a kind, humble spirit and behaviour

1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

The example of Christ

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

6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Diligence in the affairs of salvation, and to be examples to the world

12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye 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.

13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

The apostle’s purpose of visiting Philippi

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.

20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.

23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.

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

25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.

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

28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.

29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:

30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. If there be, therefore, any consolation. If you have any desire to comfort me in Christ, or for Christ’s sake. Wi.

Ver. 3. Esteem others better than themselves. S. Thomas (22. q. 162. a. 3.) puts the question, how an innocent man can with truth think himself worse than the most wicked of men? He answers, that a man who has received very extraordinary gifts from God, cannot think these gifts less than what any other has received; but he may reflect that he has nothing, and is nothing of himself. And a man truly humble considers only his own sins and failings, and is persuaded that any other person would have made better use of the same graces; which agrees with what follows, (v. 4) not considering the things that are his own. Wi.

Ver. 4. The things that are his. Self-love and self-interest are the two great sources of divisions. The Christian religion teaches a contrary doctrine. Calmet.

Ver. 6. Who being in the form[1] of God, (that is truly, properly, and essentially God from eternity, as the ancient Fathers here observed against the Arians) taking the form of a servant, (i.e. taking upon him our human nature) became truly a man, and as man the servant of God, but remaining always God as before, thought it not robbery, no injury to his eternal Father, to be equal, to be esteemed, and to declare himself equal to God, to be one thing with him: as on divers occasions he taught the people, as we have observed in the notes on S. John’s gospel, &c. Wi.

Ver. 7. But debased himself: divested himself of all the marks of greatness, for the love of mankind. The Greek text signifies, he made himself void;[2] on which account Dr. Wells, instead of made himself of no reputation, as in the Prot. translation, has changed it into emptied himself; not but that the true Son of God must always remain truly God, as well as by his incarnation truly man, but that in him as man appeared no marks of his divine power and greatness. — Made to the likeness[3] of men, not only as to an exterior likeness and appearance, but at the same time truly man by uniting his divine person to the nature of man. — In shape[4] (or habit) found as a man: not clothed exteriorly only, as a man is clothed with a garment or coat, but found both as to shape and nature a man; and, as S. Chrys. says, with the appearance of a sinful man, if we consider him persecuted by the Jews, and nailed to an infamous cross. Wi.

Ver. 9. God . . . hath given him a name, &c. The name or word Jesus represents the dignity of him who is signified by the name, and who is exalted even as man, above all creatures in heaven, earth, and hell; all which creatures either piously reverence him, or are made subject to him against their will, that every tongue may confess our Lord Jesus to be now, and to have been always, in the glory of his Father, equal to him in substance and in all perfections. Wi.

Ver. 10. If we shew respect when the name of our sovereign is mentioned, may we not express our respect also at the name of Jesus; and if to his name, why not to his cross as well as to the throne of the king?

Ver. 12. With fear and trembling. That is, be equally upon your guard against presumption and despair. S. Paul is anxious to inspire a just confidence in Jesus Christ, but he is not less solicitous to root out all self-confidence arising from our supposed merits or excellence.

Ver. 13. It is God who worketh in you both to will and to accomplish. We can neither have a will, nor begin, nor fulfil any thing of ourselves, in order to a reward in heaven. Wi. — Our free-will is not taken away, or we should not be commanded to work; but it is added, with fear and trembling, says S. Austin, that we might not be proud of our good works. De grat. et de lib. ab. c. ix.

Ver. 16. To my glory, &c. That is, I beseech you to continue in faith, and comply with the word and doctrine of the gospel, that I may have glory, and rejoice together with you in the day of Christ, when he shall come to judgment. Wi.

Ver. 17. And if I be made a victim upon the sacrifice[5] and service of your faith, I rejoice, &c. The sense of these obscure words seems to be: that I shall rejoice, and you also may rejoice and congratulate with me, if after having first offered up your faith and obedience to the gospel, as an acceptable sacrifice to God, I myself (or my blood, by martyrdom) be also added, and poured out as a second sacrifice upon the other. It is to be understood with an allusion to those sacrifices of the old law called libations, consisting of liquid things, as wine, oil, blood, which were poured out, or at least sprinkled, upon other victims and things sacrificed: so that he compares the shedding of his blood to these libations, and their submission to the faith of Christ to the sacrifice before offered to God. Wi.

Ver. 19. To send Timothy. It appears that S. Paul could not send Timothy to Philippi till some time after his deliverance from prison, about the year 63 of Jesus Christ. Tillemont. — In the succeeding verse, we see the high esteem in which Timothy was held by this apostle.

Ver. 21. All seek the things that are their own; i.e. many do so. Wi.

Ver. 24. That I also. This did not take place till full two years were expired, in the year 64: (Tillem.) and others are of opinion, that he was in Macedon when he wrote his first epistle to Timothy. Theo. Atha. Tille.

Ver. 25. Epaphroditus . . . your apostle, and the minister to my wants. Epaphroditus had also laboured after S. Paul, and is thought to have been the bishop of the Philippians; thus he might be called their apostle; though, as others conjecture, the word apostle may be here applied to him as one sent by the Philippians to S. Paul with contributions to supply his wants. Wi.

Ver. 26. And was sad. Nothing is a stronger proof of the union that existed between the ancient Christians, than this description of S. Paul: Paul is in prison, and Epaphroditus is dismissed from the extremity of Macedon to come and attend him; Epaphroditus falls sick, and the whole Church at Philippi is in mourning. Calmet.

Ver. 28. And I may be without sorrow; without the great concern and trouble that I am now in for you. Wi.

Ver. 30. Delivering up his life to persecutions, and to this danger that he was in by a sickness which was mortal, had not God restored him his health. He came with your charities, to supply that which was wanting on your part, or which I stood in need of; and I am persuaded you desired to do it sooner, if you had met with an opportunity. Wi.


[1] V. 6. In formâ Dei, en morphe Theou. See S. Chrys. (tom. iv. p. 31. 32. log. 5.) where he shews how many heresies are confuted by these words: and says, e morphe tou doulou, e phusis doulou . . . kai e morphe tou Theou, Theou phusis. See S. Greg. of Nyssa. . . 3. cont. Eunom. S. Aug. l. 1. de Trin. c. 1. &c.

[2] V. 7. Exinanivit Semetipsum, ekenose, evacuavit, a kenos, vacuus. See S. Chrys. hom. vii.

[3] Ibid. In similitudinem hominum factus, en omoiomati. S. Chrys. p. 40. log. x. See Rom. viii. in similitudine carnis peccati.

[4] Ibid. Et habitu inventus ut homo, schemati euretheis os anthropos. See S. Chrys. ibid. i.e. habitu factus est.

[5] V. 17. Sed etsi immolor super sacrificium, et obsequium fidei vestræ, alla ei kai spendoma: epi to thusia, kai leitourgia tes pisteos umon: spendesthai, est libari, eo modo quo sanguis effunditur super sacrificia.