“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;” 

“That ye may be blameless and harmless,”–Blameless in yourselves, and harmless to others.  That you give no occasion for others to accuse you of having done wrong.

           MAY BE: (Gr.-gensthe)—Literally: “May become.” This indicates that the Philippian believers had not yet reached this state, and that Paul was concerned       about them coming to it.

            BLAMELESS:  (Gr.-amemptoi)–Persons against whom no charge of transgression can justly be laid.  

Paul is concerned that the Philippian believers come to the place where they would be without rebuke; that is, “unblemished.”  Just as a lamb brought for a sacrifice in the O.T. had to be unblemished, so also ought believers to be unblemished as they walk before an unbelieving world.  As believers express the salvation they possess, it is necessary for them to become “blameless,” or “faultless,” before the watching world. 

             HARMLESS:  (Gr.-akeraioi)–The Greek word means, “that which is unmixed;” and then “that which is pure, sincere.”

The idea here is, that they should be simple, without guile. Then they would injure no one. The word occurs only here, and in Matt. 10:16; where it is rendered as ”harmless,” and Rom. 16:19, where it is rendered as “simple.”  Unbelievers should not be able to point a finger of accusation at the believer. Of course, no believer is perfect, but each Christian has the responsibility to face up to the wrongs he has committed against others.  If he does not do so, he will have the finger of accusation pointed at him.

“the sons of God,”
Literally: “Children of God.”  A phrase by which true Christians are noted (Matt. 5:46; Eph. 5:1). Showing by your holy conduct that ye are partakers of the Divine nature.

“without rebuke,”
Literally:  “Faultless.” Persons against whom no charge of transgression can justly be laid.   Paul is concerned that the Philippian believers come to the place where they would be without rebuke.  Their purity of life and character would make them stand out as lights in the darkness in a world which is crooked and perverse

“in {the} midst of a crooked and perverse nation,”
Literally:  “In {the} midst of a generation crooked and having been perverted.”– Among those of perverted sentiments and habits; those who are disposed to complain and find fault; those who will take every occasion to pervert what you do and say, and who seek every opportunity to retard the cause of truth and righteousness.

It is not known for certain to whom Paul is referring here, but it is not improbable that he had particular reference to the Jews who were in Philippi and who were the chief opponents and the most virulent enemies which the Christian Church had.   The language here used was employed by Moses (Deut. 32:6) as applicable to the Jewish people, and it is accurately descriptive of the character of the nation in the time of Paul. These Jews were among the most bitter foes of the gospel, and did perhaps more than any other people to embarrass the cause of truth, and prevent the spread of the true religion.

            CROOKED:  (Gr.-skalias)–This word means, “unscrupulous, dis-honest.”  This is the kind of world in which the believer lives and is to glorify Christ.

           PERVERSE:   (Gr.-diestrammenēs)— Literally:  “Having been perverted,” denoting a past action with a continuous effect. 

This word is translated from a word meaning, “perverted, depraved.”  It is a combination of two Greek word words, one meaning, “to turn,” and the other word added which intensifies the meaning, which really makes it mean, “warped,” or “twisted.”  The world has turned from the truth of God and, as a result, has become perverted and depraved:  warped and twisted.

“among whom ye shine as lights in the world”
Literally:  “among whom you shine as luminaires in {the} world.”–Paul is enforcing on them the duty of being blameless and harmless; of holding forth the word of life; and it is in accordance with his design to remind them that they ought to be lights to those around them.

        The comparison of Christians with light often occurs in the Scriptures (Matt. 5:14,16).  The image here may have been taken from lighthouses on a sea-coast. The image then is, that as those lighthouses are placed on a dangerous coast to apprize vessels of their peril, and to save them from shipwreck, so the light of Christian piety shines on a dark world, and in the dangers of the voyage which we are making.
       Be like the sun and moon; bless even the perverse and disobedient by your light and splendor. Let your light shine before men; some will walk in that light, and by its shining God will be glorified. It is evident that Paul, by “lights in the world,” (Gr.-phosteres en kosmoi), refers to the sun and moon particularly, and perhaps to the heavenly bodies in general.

“Holding forth
{the} Word of life; that I may rejoice in the Day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.”

“Holding forth {the} Word of life;”
Literally:  Holding up {the} Word of life.”Exhibiting in principle and practice the gospel of Christ. That is, you are under obligation to hold forth the word of life. It is a duty incumbent on you as Christians to do it.

        The “word of life” means the gospel, called the “word of life” because it is the message that promises life; or perhaps this is a Hebraism, denoting the living, or life giving word.
         The gospel stands thus in contrast with   human systems of religions for they have no efficacy to save-and to the law which “killeth” (John 6:63; II Cor. 3:6). The duty here referred to is that of“making the gospel known to others”, and of thus keeping up the knowledge of it in the world. This duty rests on Christians (Matt. 5:14,16), and they cannot escape from the obligation. They are bound to do this, not only because God commands it, but:
1.      Because they are called by God that they may be witnesses for Him (Isa. 43:10)
2.      Because they are kept on the earth for that purpose.
         If it were not for some such design, they would be removed to heaven at once on their conversion.
3.      Because there are no others to do it.
        There are none who can do this but Christians; and, if they neglect it, sinners will go unwarned and unalarmed down to death.

The exhortation here is not made to the pastors, or to any officer of the church particularly; but to the mass of believers. They are to shine as lights in the world; they are to hold forth the word of life. There is not one member of a church who is so obscure as to be exempt from the obligation; and there is not one who may not do something in this work. If we are asked how this may be done, we may reply…

4.      Paganism never originates a system which it would not be an advantage to the world to have destroyed as soon as it is conceived.
5.      Philosophy has never yet told of a way by which a sinner may be saved.
6.      The world at large devises no plan for the salvation of the soul.

         The most crude, ill-digested, and perverse systems of belief conceivable, prevail in the community called “the World.” Every form of opinion has an advocate there; every monstrous vagary that the human mind ever conceived finds friends and defenders there. The human mind has of itself no elastic energy to bring it from the ways of sin; it has no recuperative power to lead it back to God. The world at large is dependent on the believers for any just views of God, and of the way of salvation; and every Christian is to do his part in making that salvation known.
         Some expositors believer this may be an allusion to the towers which were built at the entrance of harbors, on which fires were kept during the night to direct ships into the port. Genuine Christians, by their holy lives and conversation, are the means of directing others, not only how to escape those dangers to which they are exposed on the tempestuous ocean of human life, but also of leading them into the haven of eternal safety and rest.

        HOLDING FORTH:  (Gr.-epechantes)—Common meaning in the Greek: “applying.”  This single Greek word seems to have two possible meanings:

1.     That they involve the idea of “holding out,” as one would offer food or a gift to someone. 
2.     The sense of “holding fast.” 

         This idea is of the believer’s walking in an unbelieving world and “holding out,” the Word of God to all who will believe.  That the words have the sense of “holding fast.”  This analogy would fit the need of the believer to hold fast to the Word of Life as he seeks to be a radiant testimony in a crooked and perverse world. 
         The use of the Greek root word (epechō) elsewhere in the N.T. seems to support the idea of “holding fast.”  That same word is used in Acts 19:22 where it is said that Paul “stayed”
(epechō), i.e., “held fast,” in Asia.”

         This Greek word translated as “holding forth” is a present active participle, which indicates that this action is going on at the same time as the action of the main verb; that is, the Philippian believers were shining as lights in the world while at the same time holding fast to the Word of Life.  This shows that the Word of God is central to the believer’s witness.  The Christian is to study the Word, apply the Word to himself, and then translate the Word into daily living before a crooked and perverse world.

“that I may rejoice”
Literally: “For a glorying to me.”–This was one reason which Paul argued for, and which it was proper to urge, why they should let their light shine.   “With a view to (your being) a subject of rejoicing to me against the day of Christ" (see 4:1; II Cor. 1:14; I Thess. 2:19).

Paul had been the instrument of their conversion; he had founded their church; he was their spiritual father, and had shown the deepest interest in their welfare; and he now begs them, as a means of promoting his highest joy, to be faithful and holy. The exemplary spirituality and holy lives of the members of a church will be one of the sources of highest joy to a pastor in the Day of Judgment.–“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (III John 4).

“in the Day of Christ,”
Literally:  “In {the} Day of Christ.”–The day when Christ shall appear-the Day of Judgment. It is called the Day of Christ here because He will be the glorious object which will be prominent on that day; it will be the day in which He will be honored as the Judge of all the world.          

The phrase, “Day of Christ,” is peculiar to this epistle; the usual expression is, Day of the Lord.

The “Day of Christ” occurs in the following passages (I Cor. 1:8; 5:5; II Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16) and relates wholly to the Time of Rewards and Blessings for the Church beginning with the rapture of the Chuch.—C.I. Schofield

“that I have not run in vain”
Literally:  That I ran not in vain.”That is, that it was not in vain that I labored for your spiritual good. For them to be radiant witnesses while clinging to the Word of God would cause him to rejoice in the day when every believer gives account to the Lord Jesus Christ.

    HAVE NOT RUN: (The phrase, “Day of Christ,” is peculiar to this epistle; the usual expression is, Day of the Lord.ouk edramo)—Better rendered as, “did not run.”                  

“neither labored in vain.”
Literally:  “nor labored in vain”–In preaching the gospel.

Their holy lives would be the fullest proof that he was a faithful preacher. This appears to be a part of the same metaphor; and alludes to the case of a weather-beaten mariner who has been long tossed on a tempestuous sea, in hazy weather and dark nights, who has been obliged to run on different tacks, and labor intensely to keep his ship from foundering, but is at last, by the assistance of the luminous fire on the top of the tower, directed safely into port. Live so to glorify God and do good to men, that it shall appear that I have not run and labored in vain for your salvation. 

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

“Yea, and if I be offered”
Literally:  “But if indeed I am poured out.”—Poured out as a libation.  The figure is that of a sacrifice, in which the Philippians are the priests, offering their faith to God, and Paul’s life is the libation poured out at this offering (comp. II Cor. 12:15; II Tim. 4:6). 

            OFFERED:  (Gr.-spendomai)—Properly means, to pour out, to make a libation;” and is commonly used by the classic writers in connection with sacrifices.

         The symbolism here display the ancient custom for the weather-beaten mariner, when he had gained his port, to offer a sacrifice, a (thusia), to God, of some particular animal which he had vowed while in his state of danger, and this was considered to be a religious service, (leitourgia).  
         It is a certainty that Paul here refers to a drink-offering, where one who was about to offer a sacrifice, or to present a drink-offering to the gods, before he tasted of it himself, he poured out a part of it on the altar. It formerly was used also to denote the fact, that, when an animal was about to be slain in sacrifice, wine was poured on it as a solemn act of devoting it to God,  (comp. Num. 15:6, 28:7, 14). In like manner, Paul may have regarded himself as a victim prepared for the sacrifice. In the New Testament it is found only in this place, and in II Tim. 4:6, where it is rendered, “I am ready to be offered.”. It does not here mean that Paul really expected to be a sacrifice, or to make an expiation for sin by his death; but that he might be called to pour out his blood, or to offer up his life as if he were a sacrifice, or an offering to God. We have a similar use of language, when we say that a man sacrifices himself for his friends or his country.
         Paul, in pursuing the idea, portrays himself to be willing to become the libation, (for so much the Greek word spendomai signifies,) that was to be poured upon the sacrifice.  He had labored for their salvation. He had exposed himself to peril that they and others might have the gospel. On their account he had suffered much; he had been made a prisoner at Rome; and there was a possibility, if not a probability, that his life might be a forfeit for his labors in their behalf. Yet he says that, even ff this should happen, he would not regret it, but it would be a source of joy.  

“upon the sacrifice and service of your faith”
Literally:  “on the sacrifice and service of your faith”–Notice how Paul viewed himself as being poured out (spendomai) as a drink offering for the Philippians“upon the sacrifice and service of your faith.”   As they expressed their faith, they produced what amounted to a sacrifice and service to God.

        SACRIFICE: (Gr.-thusiai)–This is the same Greek word that Paul used when he told the believers in Rome, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Rom. 12:1). 

This was a strange terminology in the First Century for the pagans of that time knew that their sacrifices to their pagan gods were dead.  A sacrifice is dead, yet Paul told the Roman believers to present their bodies a LIVING sacrifice.  While it is true that God does call upon some believers to give their lives for Him, the normal demand that God makes of a believer is that his entire life be a living sacrifice.  The word here rendered sacrifice means,
1.      The
act of sacrificing;

2.      The victim that is offered; and
3.      Any oblation or offering. Here it must be used in the latter sense, and is connected with “faith,” i.e., “the sacrifice of your faith.”

The reference is probably to the faith (religion) of the Philippians, regarded as a sacrifice or an offering to God; the worship which they rendered to him. The idea of Paul’s is that if, in order to render that offering what it should hereto make it as complete and acceptable to God as possible-it were necessary for him to die, pouring out his blood, and strength, and life, as wine was poured out to prepare a sacrifice for the altar and make it complete, he would not refuse to do it, but would rejoice in the opportunity. He seems to have regarded them as engaged in making an offering of faith, and as endeavoring to make the offering complete and acceptable; and says that if his death were necessary to make their piety of the highest and most acceptable kind, he was ready to die.

        SERVICE: (Gr.-eitourgia)–This word was commonly used when referring to serving God. 

The word is translated as “ministry” in Heb. 9:21 in referring to Moses, “He sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.”  Therefore, the “service,” of  the Philippian church was considered an act of worship of God. Paul was willing to endure anything, even to suffer death in their cause, if it would tend to make their "service" more pure, spiritual, and acceptable to God. The meaning of the whole is,…
1.      That the sufferings and dangers which he now experienced were in their cause, and on their behalf; and ,
2.      That he was willing to lay down his life, if their piety would be promoted, and their worship be rendered more pure and acceptable to God

“I joy and rejoice with you all.”
Literally:  “I rejoice; yea, I rejoice with you all”–Paul did not bemoan the fact that he might be called upon to “pour out” (spendomai), his life as a sacrifice and service for the Philippian believers.

On the contrary, he said that if this be the case, I joy, and rejoice with you all.”  Physically speaking, he had every reason to feel sorry for himself, but he refused to do so; instead of despairing and complaining, he was rejoicing!

        I JOY: (Gr.-chairo)–That is, I am not afraid of death; and if my dying can be the means of promoting your piety, it will be a source of rejoicing (comp. 1:23).

        I REJOICE:  (Gr.-sugchairo)–My joy will be increased in anything that promotes yours. The fruits of my death will reach and benefit you, and it will be a source of mutual congratulation.

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

“For the same cause do ye joy”
Literally:  “And you also rejoice {in} the same.”  Because we are united, and what affects one of us should affect both.  

Paul was not content to merely have personal victory over circumstances; he wanted fellow believers to share in his victory.  Instead of allowing the Philippian believers to sorrow over the possibility that he might need to give up his life for the preaching of the gospel, he wanted them to rejoice that God had given him the privilege of pouring out his life as a drink offering.  He was convinced that the death of a believer glorifies God.  Although the believer dies physically, he goes immediately to live in the presence of the Lord; so, in a sense, he is more alive than he has ever been!

“do ye joy, and rejoice with me.”
Literally:  You joy and rejoice with me.” That is, “Do not grieve at my death. Be not overwhelmed with sorrow, but let your hearts be filled with congratulation. It will be a privilege and a pleasure thus to die.” This is a noble sentiment, and one that could have been uttered only by a heroic and generous mind-by a man who did not dread death, and who felt that it was honorable thus to die.

A brave Athenian returned from the battle of Marathon, bleeding with wounds and exhausted, and rushed into the presence of the magistrates, and uttered only these two Greek words,  chariete, cairomen (“rejoice, we rejoice”)—and immediately expired.  So Paul felt that there was occasion for him, and for all whom he loved, to rejoice, if he was permitted to die in the cause of others, and in such a manner that his death would benefit the world.

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