“But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.”

“But I rejoice in the Lord greatly,”
Literally:  “And I rejoiced in {the} Lord greatly.” The favor which Paul had received, and for which he felt so much gratitude, had been received of the Philippians; but he regarded “the Lord” as the source of it all, and rejoiced in it as the expression of His kindness. The effect was to lead his heart with cheerfulness and joy up to God.

Every good comes from God, either immediately from His providence or from His grace; therefore Paul thanks God for the kindness of the Philippians towards him; for it was God that gave them the power, and directed their hearts to use it.

        REJOICE:  (Grk.–chairō)-Paul uses this word nine times in this epistle.  He uses a related word (Grk.–chara) five times.  We can see that one of the main themes of this epistle is “joy” or “rejoicing,” in spite of the fact that Paul was writing from a prison. 

Paul here puts this Greek word in the aorist case, denoting a past action: referring to a specific experience of joy which had come to him when they had shown their love for him by sending both an offering and Epaphroditus to minister to him.

      IN THE LORD:  (Grk.–en Kurios)–Notice that this is the sphere of Paul’s rejoicing–“in the Lord.”  Paul is constantly emphasizing this positional truth:  that all believers are “in Christ.”  Here he is acknowledging that this financial gift from the Philippians was another blessing from God, so he is rejoicing in the Lord.

“that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again;”
Literally:  “That now at last you revived your thinking on behalf of me..”  After so long a time.

As his letter is drawing to a close, Paul takes this time to express his gratitude for the gift that these Philippian believers had sent to him.  The reason why he had not before received the favor, was not neglect or inattention on their part, but the difficulty of having communication with him.

        AT THE LAST:  (Grk.-pote)—“At last,” implies he was expecting their gift, not from a selfish view, but as a “fruit” of their faith, and to “abound” to their account (vv. 11, 17). Though long in coming, owing to Epaphroditus' sickness and other delays, he does not imply their gift was too late.

Probably the reason the Philippians were not able to express their love more often was because they were living under poverty conditions themselves. 

        FLOURISHED AGAIN: (Grk.–anaethalete)—Here the meaning is that they had been again prospered in their care of him, and to Paul it seemed as if their care had sprung up anew. They had helped him before, (2:25); they had ceased for a time, and now they began again.

         This is evidently designed by Paul, as the word (Grk.–anathallō), means, “to grow again,”  or “to revive.”  This is the only place in the N.T. that this word is used. It is a word properly applicable to plants or flowers, meaning to grow green again; to flourish again; to spring up again. Here the meaning is, that they had been again prospered in their care of him, and to Paul it seemed as if their care had sprung up anew.
          For the time in which they were apparently remiss he makes a delicate apology: You were careful, but you lacked opportunity; you had not ability; you wanted the means; as the word sometimes implies.  Paul seems to view the concern of the Philippians as always existing, but now it is breaking into blossom like a flower as they had an opportunity to express their love for him.
         They were probably unable to express their love more often because they were living under poverty conditions themselves.  They were among the churches in Macedonia of whom Paul said in II Cor. 8:2, 4, “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality…Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”  Although Paul knew the Philippians would have likeed to help him before, he realized they “lacked opportunity,” which means he knew they had no money to give.

“ye were so careful”
Literally:  “you indeed did think”–That is, they desired to give him assistance, and to minister to his wants.

         CAREFUL:   (Grk.–ephroneite)–Literally:  “You were all along thoughtful.” In respect to, the sending of a supply to me.  

“but ye lacked opportunity:
Literally:  “but lacked opportunity”– Your “lack of service” (2:30), was owing to your having “lacked opportunity.” Paul adds this, lest they should think he was disposed to blame them for inattention.  

“Not that I speak in respect of want:  for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

“Not that I speak in respect of want:”
Literally:  “Not that I speak as to need.”–I am quite unconcerned in this respect; leaving the whole of my support, while bound for the testimony of Jesus, to the providence of God.

Though he was, doubtless, often in circumstances of many needs, yet Paul did not make these remarks on that account. In his journeys, in his imprisonments; he could not help but be at times in want; but he had learned to bear all this; and that which most impressed itself on his mind was the interest which the church ought to show in the cause of religion, and the evidence which it would thus furnish of attachment to the cause. As to his own personal trials, Paul had learned to bear them, so that they did not give him great uneasiness.

        WANT:  (Grk.–husteresin)–This word is used only here and in Mark 12:44 in the N.T. 

“for I have learned”
Literally:  “For I did learn.”–I am so satisfied with the wise providence and goodness of God, that I know whatever He determines is the best; and therefore I am perfectly contented that he should govern the world in that way which seems best to His godly wisdom. How true is the proverb, A contented mind is a continual feast! What do we get by murmuring and complaining?.

I leave it to others if they will, to be discontented. I, for my part, have learned, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and the dealings of Providence (Heb. 5:8), to be content in every condition in which the Lord places me.

        LEARNED:  (Grk.–manthanō), is emphatic in the Greek.   Paul had “learned” to be content.  It was something he had to learn because he was likely from a wealthy Jewish family in which he had lived in an affluent First Century life-style.           

         That Paul had learned to be content is indicated from v. 12 where he said, “I know how to abound.”  And it is also shown by the fact that he was educated at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), a privilege which probably cost a pretty penny and was thus afforded only by the wealthy.  But Paul had given up such affluence when he began to follow Christ, and he had “learned” by experience to be content with little, or in whatever “state” or condition in which he found himself.
         Paul says that he had “learned” this. Probably, by nature, he had a mind as prone to impatience as others, but he had been in circumstances fitted to produce a different state of feeling. He had had ample experience, (II Cor. 11:26,) and, in his life of trials, he had acquired invaluable lessons on the subject. He had had abundant time for reflection, and he had found that there was grace enough in the gospel to enable him to bear trials with resignation.

“in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”|
Literally:  “To be content in whatever state (circumstance) I am in.”–That is, to have a
contented mind.

         A contented mind is an invaluable blessing, and is one of the fruits of religion in the soul. It arises from the belief that God is right in all his ways. Why should we be impatient, restless, discontented? What evil will be remedied by it? What want supplied? What calamity removed?  “He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast,” (Prov. 15:15); and one of the secrets of happiness is to have a mind satisfied with all the allotments of Providence. The members of the Episcopal church beautifully pray, every day, “Give us minds always contented with our present condition.” No prayer can be offered which will enter more deeply into all our happiness on earth.
        The considerations by which he had been taught this he does not state; but they were probably such as the following: that it is wrong to murmur at the allotments of Providence; that a spirit of impatience does no good, remedies no evil, and supplies no want; that God could provide for him in a way which he could not foresee, and that the Savior was able abundantly to sustain him.

        CONTENT:  (Grk.–autarchēs)—Used only here in the N.T.  It is a stoic word, expressing the favorite doctrine of that sect, that man should be sufficient to himself for all things; able, by the power of his own will, to resist the shock of circumstances.  Paul is self-sufficient through the power ot the new self; not he, but Christ in him. 

The kindred Greek noun (autarkeia), “sufficiency,” occurs in II Cor. 9:8; I Tim. 6:6. The original Greek text literally expresses the idea of “independent of others, and having sufficiency in one's self.” But Christianity has raised the term above the haughty self-sufficiency of the heathen Stoic to the contentment of the Christian, whose sufficiency is not in self, but in God .

“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:  everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

“I know both how to be abased,”
Literally:  “And I know to be humbled.” I have passed through all these states; I know how to conduct myself in each, and how to extract good from all.

Paul had passed through these things, especially the hardships, so that he had learned the lesson perfectly; he was thoroughly instructed; fully initiated into all the mysteries of poverty and want, and of the supporting hand of God in the whole. See here the state to which God permitted his chief apostle to be reduced! And see how powerfully the grace of Christ supported him under the whole! How few of those who are called Christian ministers or Christian men have learned this important lesson! When want or affliction comes, their complaints are loud and frequent; and they are soon at the end of their patience.

        ABASED:  (Grk.–tapeinousthai)-a word that can also be translated as “humbled.”  Paul used the same word in referring to Christ, Who gave up the glory He had with the Father and, “humbled Himself” (2:8). 

If the Master humbled Himself, surely it is to be expected that the servants would also face humbling circumstances.  Paul told about some of these circumstances in II Cor. 11:23-33.

“and I know how to abound:”
Literally:  “And I know to abound.”–That is, to have an abundance; to have more than enough. 

         Paul may here be referring to his family life before his conversion and call to the apostleship in which he had been in circumstances where he had an ample supply for all his wants, and knew what it was to have enough. It requires as much grace to keep the heart right in prosperity as it does in adversity, and perhaps more. Adversity, of itself, does something to keep the mind in a right state; prosperity does nothing.
         Paul also knew what it was to have more than enough.  He was probably referring to his early family life, before he became a Christian, but he may also be referring to times when he had learned to live on less  and more was provided by the Lord than his immediate needs. 

        I KNOW:  (Grk.–oida)–This Greek word is in the sense of “understanding” or “entering into the secret of.”  In effect, Paul is saying, “I have learned the secret of being abased, of doing without, and I have learned the secret of being full; of having more than enough.” 

“everywhere and in all things I am instructed
Literally:  “In everything, and in all things I am taught.” In all my travels and imprisonments, and in reference to everything that occurs, I learn important lessons on these points.

        INSTRUCTED:  (Grk.–mueō)–From a Greek word mean, “to initiate,” but also has the sense of, “to learn the secret.”  This Greek word is one that is commonly used in relation to mysteries, and denoted being instructed in the secret doctrines that  were taught in the ancient “mysteries.” 

         In those mysteries, it was only the “initiated” who were made acquainted with the lessons that were taught there. Paul says that he had been initiated into the lessons taught by trials and by prosperity. The secret and important lessons which these schools of adversity are fitted to teach he had had an ample opportunity of learning; and he had faithfully embraced the doctrines thus taught. Although there were secrets in the mystery religions of Paul’s day, there are also secrets a person could learn in Christianity:  and one of those was how to be content regardless of one’s circumstances.
         Paul says that he had learned the secret “both to be full and to be hungry; both to abound and to suffer need.”  He singled out different aspects of life as he continued to emphasize why his rejoicing greatly over the Philippians’ gift did not depend on his circumstances alone.  After receiving Paul’s letter, the Philippian believers might wonder (and many Christians today might wonder) how was all this possible, Paul?  How does one learn the secret of being content in every kind of circumstance?  Paul answers that question in the following verse.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Literally:  “I have strength for all things.”  Strength not merely how to be abased and how to abound.

         From the experience which Paul had in these various circumstances of life, he comes here to the general conclusion that he could “do all things.” He could bear any trial, perform any duty, subdue any evil propensity of his nature, and meet all the temptations incident to any condition of prosperity or adversity. His own experience in the various changes of life had warranted him in arriving at this conclusion; and he now expresses the firm confidence that nothing would be required of him which he would not be able to perform. In Paul, this declaration was not a vain self-reliance, nor was it the mere result of his former experience. He knew well where the strength was to be obtained by which to do all things, and on that arm that was able to uphold him he confidently relied.

        ALL:  (Grk.–panta)– Literally, it means, “In everything.”  In this statement the word “all” is emphasized, for it comes first in the Greek text.  The “all” means not only the things just mentioned, but everything. 

“through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Literally:  “Through Christ, the {One} strengthening me.” John 15:5. Of the strength which Christ can impart Paul had had abundant experience; and now his whole reliance was there. It was not in any native ability which he had; not in any rigor of body or of mind; not in any power which there was in his own resolutions; it was in the strength that he derived from the Redeemer. By that he was enabled to bear cold, fatigue, and hunger; by that he met temptations and persecutions; and by that he engaged in the performance of his arduous duties.

        STRENGTHENETH:  (Grk.–endunamoō)-The word, in addition to “strengthen,” also means “able” or “enable.”  Christ is the One who had enabled Paul to be content in all kinds of circumstances.  Contentment is not determined by what a person has, but what his, or her, relationship is to Christ.