“That ye may approve
{things} that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till [the] day of Christ”

“That ye may approve {things}
Literally:  “For you to distinguish {between} different {things}.”  Or, try; sanction on testing (see I Pet. 1:7).

        APPROVE:  (Gr.-dokimazo)–This Greek word literally denotes the kind of trial to which metals are exposed in order to test their nature; as a metal smith might do, for the purpose of approving..  This word was used in N.T. times of testing metals and coins to determine which ones came up to the proper standards, and, therefore, were approved.

The sense here is that Paul wished them to try the things that were of real value, as to discern that which was true and genuine.   This verse shows the result of a love that abounds in knowledge and discernment.          

“approve things that are excellent”
Literally: “approve {between} differing things.– So that you may put to proof the things that differ, or the things that are more profitable. By the pure and abundant love which they received from God they would be able to try whatever differed from the teaching they had received, and from the experience they had in spiritual things.

         Much unnecessary difficulty has been made in attempting to explain this phrase.  Love will display itself in knowledge and discernment.  In the same proportion as it abounds it sharpens our perceptions for discerning what is best.  This phrase is also found in Rom. 2:18, but there it has a different meaning–“And knowest {His} will, and approves the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the Law.”
         Paul wanted these believers to be able to distinguish between things that differed from each other; to have an intelligent apprehension of what was right and wrong, of what was good and evil. He would not have them love and approve all things indiscriminately. They should be esteemed according to their real value. It is remarkable here how anxious tPaul was, not only that they should be Christians, but that they should be intelligent Christians, and should understand the real worth and value of objects.

        EXCELLENT:  (Gr.-diapherō)–The word means, “things that really matter,” or “things that differ.” 

This further emphasized Paul’s prayer that their love would abound in discernment.  To discern is to distinguish things that differ.  Paul wanted them not only to distinguish what differed, but also to approve that which proved to be of the Lord.  This passage is on the line of I Cor. 12:31: 

“that ye may be sincere”
Literally:  “that you be sincere.”

         SINCERE:  (Gr.-eilikrineis)–This Greek word is a compounded of (eilē), “the splendor of the sun,” and (krinō), “I judge.”    The word  (eilikrineis)  is a derivative of the Greek verb (eilekrinō) which means, “that which is judged as in sunshine,”), and then that which is clear and manifest.

         Here Paul is using a metaphor, taken from the usual practice of salesmen, in the view and choice of their wares, that bring them forth into the light and hold up the cloth against the sun, to see if they can see any default in them; i.e.,  that is, “p ure as the sun."  Believers are to be so purified and refined in their souls, by the indwelling Spirit, that even the light of God shining into their hearts, shall not be able to discover a fault that the love of God has not purged away.
        The Greek word
 (eilikrineis)  speaks of an article which may be examined in the clearest and strongest light, without the possibility of detecting a single flaw or imperfection.  There is no more desirable title that can be given to a man than to say that he is sincere-a sincere friend, benefactor, Christian; and there is nothing more better in the character of a Christian than sincerity. It implies,

1.      That he is truly converted-that he has not assumed Christianity as a mask;
2.      That his motives are disinterested and pure;
3.      That his conduct is free from double-dealing, trick, and cunning;
4.      That his words express the real sentiments of his heart;
5.      That he is true to his word, and faithful to his promises;
6.      That he is always what he professes to be.
A sincere Christian would bear to have the light let in upon him always; to have the emotions of his heart seen; to be scanned everywhere, and at all times, by men, by angels, and by God.

    The word  (eilikrineis)   literally means “without wax,” that is, honey which is pure and transparent. Applied to Christian character, it means that which is not deceitful, ambiguous, hypocritical; or that which is not mingled with error, worldliness, and sin; that which does not proceed from selfish and interested motives, and where there is nothing disguised.  This word is used in again the N.T. only in II Pet. 3:1, where it is rendered as “pure,” and it occurs in I Cor. 5:8, II Cor. 1:12, 2:17; in all which places it is rendered as “sincerity.”            

“and without offence”
Literally: “And without blame.”–Inoffensive to others. Not injuring them in property, feelings, or reputation. This is a negative virtue, and is often despised by the world.

But it is much to say of a man that he injures no one; that neither by example, nor opinions, nor conversation, he leads them astray; that he never does injustice to their motives, and never impedes their influence; that he never wounds their feelings, or gives occasion for hard thoughts; and that he so lives that all may see that his is a blameless life.

        WITHOUT OFFENCE:  (Gr.-aproskopos)—Literally:  “blameless; faultless” or “inoffensive.”

A Christian is not only to be “sincere,”, literally:  “pure” or “sincere” (eilikrineis), but he should also be known as (aproskopos)—“blameless, faultless; inoffensive;” that is, never causing other people to stumble.  There are people who are themselves faultless, but who are so austere that they drive people away from Christianity.  Christians are themselves pure, but their love and gentleness should be such that they attract others to the Christian way and never repel them from it.

“till {the} day of Christ”
Literally:  “Unto {the} day of Christ.” —Till He comes to judge the world, or, till the day in which you are called into the eternal world.
A better rendering would read, “against” or “with a view to {the} day of Christ.”

According to this prayer, a man, under the power and influence of the grace of God, may so love his Maker as never to offend Him, to the latest period of his life. Those who deny this must believe that the Spirit of God either cannot or will not do it; or, that the blood of Christ cannot cleanse from all unrighteousness. This would be not only anti-scriptural, but also blasphemous!   This is the second time the Rapture is mentioned in this epistle.  A child of God should always walk in the light of the imminent return of Christ.

“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”

“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness,”
Literally: “Having been filled [with] fruits of righteousness.” That which righteousness in the heart produces.

The fruits, or results, will be seen in the believer’s life.  These fruits are honesty, truth, kindness, meekness, goodness. The wish of Paul here is that the Philippian believers might show abundantly by their lives that they were truly righteous. He does not refer to liberality merely, but to everything which true piety in the heart is fitted to produce in the life.

        RIGHTEOUSNES:  (Gr.-pepleromenoi)–This is referring to the whole work of the Spirit of God in the soul of a believer.

         By the fruits of righteousness is meant all holy tempers, holy words, and right actions. And with these they are to be filled  (filled up, filled full;”);  ever doing something by which glory is brought to God, or good done to man    The fruits of righteousness comprise the evidences of character that has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the resulting works of righteousness which fulfill the will of God in the individual life.  It is a holy life and a holy character manifesting the fruit of the Spirit.  When a believer is living in fellowship with Christ, that person evidences the fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5:22-23).

“which are by Jesus Christ”
Literally:  “Through Jesus Christ.” That is, according to His doctrine, through the power of His grace, and by the agency of His Spirit.  We are wild and useless olive trees till we are grafted into Christ, who, by His living root, makes us fruit-bearing branches.

Paul is emphasizing to the Philippians that this fruit does not originate in one’s self-efforts.  Au contraire, these fruits are the characteristics of Christ’s own life as seen through the believer when he is in fellowship with Christ.  They originate with Christ and not in the believer’s own efforts.

“unto the glory and praise of God.”\
Literally:  “To [the] glory and praise of God.”–The fruits of righteousness come by means of Jesus Christ and are “unto the glory and praise of God.” 

The believer who evidences the fruits of righteousness magnifies God by the way he lives.  Understand this most important point:  when the believer is in fellowship with Christ, the characteristics of Christ’s life will be evidenced trough his own life.  That God’s glory may be both displayed and recognized–“To the praise of the glory of His grace, where He hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6).



“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things
[which happened] unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;”

“But I would ye should understand,”
Literally:  “And I want you to know this.” Paul here turns to himself, and goes into a somewhat extended account of his own feelings in his trials, and of the effects of his imprisonment at Rome.

Paul wished them to understand what his circumstances were, and what had been the effect of his imprisonment, probably for such reasons as these:
1.      They were tenderly attached to him, and would feel an interest in all that pertained to him.
2.      It was possible that they might hear unfounded rumors about the manner of his treatment and he wished that they should understand the exact truth.
3.      He had real intelligence to communicate to them that would be joyful to them, about the effect of his imprisonment, and his treatment there; and he wished them to rejoice with him.

He wanted to make sure that the Philippian believers would not misunderstand his situation in relation to the gospel.  The Philippians probably had feared that his imprisonment would hinder the spread of the Gospel; so he seeks to removes their fear. With these words Paul hopes to prevent the Philippians' stumbling, and being scandalized at his present sufferings, assuring them that the things which happened to him, through the malice of his persecutors, have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel, than any ways to the hindrance of it, as they feared.  No doubt some were discouraged and fearful. However, far from his imprisonment ending his missionary activity, it actually expanded it for himself and for others.        

“that the things {which happened} unto me”
Literally:  “That the things about me.”  The things which happened unto me; my imprisonment, and all the circumstances connected with it.  Don’t forget that Paul was a prisoner at Rome at this time, and it appears probable that he had already been called to make a defense for himself, and to vindicate the doctrines of the Gospel; and this he had been enabled to do in such a manner that the honor of the Gospel had been greatly promoted by it.

As the Philippians loved him greatly, he felt it right to give them this information relative to his state, and how God had turned his bonds to the advantage of that cause on account of which he was bound.

“have fallen out rather unto [the] furtherance of the gospel;”
Literally:  “Have more fully come to [the] advancement of the gospel.”  During the past three years, Paul had experienced imprisonment, harassment and even threats on his life.  But Paul bypassed these details and instead emphasized that all of these difficulties had actually furthered , not hindered, the gospel. 

        RATHER:  (Gr.-mallon)–For the furtherance of the Gospel, rather than, as might have been expected, for its hindrance.

        FURTHERANCE:  (Gr.-prokapēn)–The word translated as “furtherance” is a form of the Greek noun (prokopē), which means, “progress, advancement, to cut or strike forward.”  

         Paul’s use of this term is really uncertain, but it is supposed to be that of pioneers cutting (kottō) a way before (pro) an army for furthering its march.  Paul is here using it of a person cutting his way through brushwood.  The Stoics  used the term in their philosophy for “progress toward wisdom” and it appears also in the papyri and the LXX.   Used in the N.T. only here, verse 25; I Tim. 4:15
         The analogy here is that the problems that had obstructed Paul had actually cleared the path; had actually made opportunities for the gospel to advance.  What a paradox!  The circumstances which the Philippian believers had thought would hinder the gospel had actually resulted in its
advancement!  This really shows that our sovereign God can take any circumstance and use it to accomplish His purpose.  So instead of allowing the Philippians to mourn over what was happening to him, Paul wanted them to rejoice in the advancement of the gospel. 

“So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and
[in] all other [places];”

“So that my bonds in Christ”
Literally:  “So as the bonds have become clearly revealed {to be} in Christ.”   Paul’s meaning is that his bonds have revealed the cause of Christ. 

         According to Vincent’s Word Studies in the N.T., the words, “bonds” and “Christ”  in the Greek are too far apart to be construed as being together.  Vincent says a better rendering of this phrase would say, “My bonds became manifest in Christ.”  Paul’s imprisonment became known as being connected with Christ; that is, it was understood to be for Christ’s sake.  His bonds were not hidden as though he were an ordinary prisoner.  His very captivity proclaimed Christ.
         Paul is saying, “My captivity is understood as being a part of my Christian life and work, and so becomes a starting-point for the preaching of the gospel.”  So Paul made it to the Jews (Acts 28:20),  “For the hope of Israel am I bound in this chain.” (Comp. Eph. 6:20)– “I am an ambassador in bonds.”

         “So that my bonds have become manifest in Christ," that is, known, as endured in Christ's cause.”  Paul was imprisoned because he preached Christ, (Eph. 6:20), and was really suffering because of his attachment to the Redeemer. It was not for crime, but for being a Christian-for had he not been a Christian, he would have escaped all this.

         BONDS: (Gr.-desmous)—This does not of itself mean “chain.”  It can have a broader meaning, such as “confinement,” or “imprisonment.”  However, it is quite possible that Paul was actually chained to a guard while he was in prison.

The manner of Paul's imprisonment as recorded in Acts 28:16,  was, that he was allowed to occupy a house by himself, though chained to a soldier who was his guard.  He was not in a dungeon indeed, but he was not at liberty, and this was a severe mode of confinement. Who would wish to be chained night and day to a living witness of all that he did; to a spy on all his movements? Who would wish to have such a man always with him, to hear all he said, and to see all that he did? Who could well bear the feeling that he could never be alone-and never be at liberty to do anything without the permission of one who probably had little disposition to be indulgent?

“are manifest in all the palace,”
Literally:  “Have become clearly revealed in all the preaetorium.” In consequence of the public defense which he was obliged to make, his doctrines must be fully known in the court, and throughout the whole city, as on his trial he would necessarily explain the whole.

         MANIFEST: (Gr.-phanerous)–That is, it has become known that I am imprisoned only for the sake of Christ. The true reason why I am thus accused and imprisoned begins to be understood, and this has awakened sympathy for me as an injured man. They see that it is not for crime, but that it is on account of my religious opinions; and the conviction of my innocence has spread abroad, and has produced a favorable impression in regard to Christianity itself. It must have been a matter of much importance for Paul to have this knowledge of the real cause why he was imprisoned go abroad. Such a knowledge would do much to prepare others to listen to what he had to say-for there is no man to whom we listen more readily than to one who is suffering wrongfully.

         IN ALL THE PALACE: (Gr.-en holōi tōi praitoriōi)– Literally:  “In all the praetorium;” or better, “Throughout athe whole praetorian guard.” This word properly (Gr.-praitōrion) denotes the general's tent in a camp; then the house or palace of a governor of a province; then any large hall, house, or palace. This word occurs in the N.T. in the following places: Matthew 27:27, where it is rendered “common hall;” Mark 15:16, rendered “praetorium.”  In  John 18:28,33, 19:9, Acts 23:35, it is rendered “judgment hall.”

No doubt, there were persons belonging to the emperor's household who would bring the news of so remarkable a case to the palace; for we find that there were Christians even in Caesar's household; Philippians 4:22

        PALACE:   (Gr.-praitōrion)–This Greek word is translated “palace,” and signifies the court where cases were heard and judged by the praetor or civil magistrate.  The word also sometimes signifies the tent of a general, and  the emperor's palace. It is supposed that it is used in this latter sense here.

         In the place before us, this could denote either the palace of the emperor at Rome, or the pretorian camp, which was the headquarters of the Praetorian Guards or Praetorian Cohorts. These cohorts were a body of 10,000 select troops (two legions) instituted by Augustus to guard his person, and have charge of the city. They also served as the city police force.   It is possible that Paul meant to say that the cause of his imprisonment had become known to all the band of the praetorians.
         The usual word to denote the residence of the emperor at Rome was palatium—palace, but that those who resided in the provinces were accustomed to the word praetorium, and would use it when speaking of the palace of the emperor. 

         In 4:22 Paul, in the salutation of the saints at Rome to those of Philippi, mentions particularly those of “Caesar's household.” From this it would seem that some of the family of the emperor, or at least members of his household, had been made acquainted with the Christian religion, and had been converted. In what way the knowledge of the true cause of Paul's imprisonment had been circulated in the “palace,” is not now known. There was, however, close intimacy between the military officers and the government, and it was probably by means of some of the soldiers or officers who had the special charge of Paul, that this had been communicated.  
         The question about the meaning of the word is important, as it bears on the inquiry to what extent the gospel was made known at Rome in the time of Paul, and perhaps as to the question why he was released from his imprisonment. If the knowledge of his innocence had reached the palace, it was a ground of hope that he might be acquitted; and if that palace is here intended, it is an interesting fact as showing that in some way the gospel had been introduced into the family of the emperor himself.
         That the palace or residence of the emperor is intended here, may be considered at least probable from the following considerations:
1.      It is the name which would be likely. to be used by the Jews who came up from Judea and other provinces, to denote the chief place of judgment, or the principal residence of the highest magistrate. It was used that way in Jerusalem, in Caesarea, and in the provinces to denote the residence of the highest representative of the Roman power.
2.      In 4:22, Paul mentions particularly those of “Cæsar's household.” In what way the knowledge of the true cause of Paul's imprisonment had been circulated in the “palace,” is not now known.

To Paul, in his bonds, it must have been a subject of great rejoicing, that the government became aware of the true character of the opposition which had been encited against him; and it must have done much to reconcile him to the sorrows and privations of imprisonment, that he was thus the means of introducing religion to the very palace of the emperor.

         There are passages in which Paul’s imprisonment is more closely defined.  In Acts 28:20 he speaks of himself as “bound with this chain,”  (Gr.-halusis),  in Eph. 6:20 when he speaks of himself as an “ambassador in chains.”  It is in this word halusis that we find our key.  The halusis was a short length of chain by which the wrist of a prisoner was bound to the wrist of the soldier who was his guard, so that escape was impossible.  The situation for Paul  was this:  he had been delivered to the commander of the Praetorion Guard, to await trial before the emperor, but because he was still an unconvicted Roman citizen, he had been allowed to arrange a private lodging for himself.  However, night and day there was a soldier to guard him, a soldier to whom he was chained by his (halusis),.
        There would be a rotation of guards assigned to this duty , and over the course of two years, one-by-one, the guards of the Imperial Guard would be on duty with Paul.  What an opportunity!  These soldiers would hear Paul preach and talk to his friends.  They would hear his open discussion about Jesus.  His imprisonment had opened the way for preaching the gospel to the finest, elite, unit in the Roman army.  All the Praetorian Guard knew why Paul was in prison–because of Christ.

“And {in} all other {places}
Literally:  “And to all the rest.”  But if, as has been supposed, the reference in the word pretorium is to the palace, then this should be rendered “all other places.”

         It then means, that the knowledge of his innocence, and the consequences of that knowledge in its happy influence in spreading religion, were not confined to the palace, but were extended to other places. it might be said that correct views of the matter pervaded the city, and the fact of his imprisonment was accomplishing extensively the most happy effects on the public mind.
         That is, “manifest to all the other” Prætorian soldiers stationed elsewhere, through the instrumentality of the Prætorian household guards who might for the time be attached to the emperor's palace, and who relieved one another in succession. Paul had by then been a prisoner for about two years, so that there was plenty of time for his cause and the Gospel having become widely known at Rome.  Also, during this time Paul had been allowed to receive visitors, including some of the leading Jewish leaders there in Rome.
         Instead of being frustrated and despondent over his confinement, Paul rejoiced that this actually helped to spread the gospel in ever widening circles.  Those in Rome, the capital of the empire; yea, the capital of the world, were learning about his situation and at the same time were also learning about the Lord Jesus Christ, whom Paul loved and served.  Christians were especially affected by Paul’s imprisonment. 

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