VERSES 14-19:  Peace in Regard to Care for Others

“Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.”

“Notwithstanding ye have well done”
Literally:  “Yet you did well.” Though he had learned the grace of contentment, and though he knew that Christ could enable him to do all things, it was well for them to show sympathy for his sufferings; for it evinced a proper regard for a benefactor and an apostle.

        WELL:  (Grk.-kalos)– This adverb literally means “good.”  It can also have the sense of “excellently” or “nobly.” 

         Even though he was not in desperate need, he did commend the Philippians for sending him a gift far more than what might be expected, and Paul was highly pleased by their demonstration of love.  The generosity of the Philippian church to Paul went back a long way.  In Acts 16-17 we read how Paul preached the gospel in Philippi and then moved on to Thessalonica and Berea. 
         As far back as that, these Philippian believers had given proof of their love for him.  In fact, Paul had never accepted any gift or help from any other church. It was this fact which seemed to annoy the Corinthians (II Cor. 11:7-12.  Perhaps there may have been a state of pricked consciences bothering these Corinthians?

“that ye did communicate with my affliction.”
Literally:  “you did well in sharing my troubles.”–Though I have learned all these important lessons, and am never miserable in want, yet you have done well in sending me relief in the time of affliction.

That is, you sympathized with me, and assisted me in bearing it. You made yourselves sharers with me in my present affliction, namely, by sympathy; of which sympathy your contribution is the proof. 

        COMMUNICATE: (Grk.-sugkoinoneo)—Meaning “to participate in with someone.”  They were so concerned about Paul that they considered his suffering to be their suffering.  They knew by experience what Paul stated in I Cor. 12:26—“…whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it.”  Their intimated knowledge of his needs, reflects their abiding interests in his missionary efforts.

VERSE  15:
“Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.”

         “Now ye Philippians know also”
         Literally:  “And you know also, Philippians”– You also know (as well as I do myself).

“in the beginning of the gospel”
Literally:  “That in {the} beginning of the gospel.”   WhenI first preached the gospel to you; or when the gospel began to influence your hearts.    

       When, having preached to you, I went forth into Macedonia (northern part of present Greece), I received  no help from any of the Churches which I had founded; it was only from you that I received any help.. I received nothing from any of the others, and nothing was even offered to me.
        On his Second Missionary Journey, Paul received, through a vision, a call to come over to Macedonia to help those living there.  He did go there, and one of the first cities he and his companions visited was Philippi.  After making converts and after having his prison experiences (Acts 16:12-31), Paul and his fellow workers visited other locations throughout Macedonia.

“when I departed from Macedonia,”|
Literally:  “When I went out from Macedonia.” See Acts 17:14.

      The last place that Paul visited in Macedonia, at that time, was Berea. There a tumult was excited by the Jews (Judaizers) from Thessalonica, and it was necessary for him to leave there. He left Macedonia in haste and amidst scenes of persecution, and went to Athens; when he needed sympathizing aid. At that time, as well as when he was in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-10), he needed the assistance of others to supply his wants; and he says that aid was not withheld. This had taken place about twelve years before this epistle was written.
      The Philippians had followed Paul with their bounty when he left Macedonia and came to Corinth. (II Cor. 11:8-9).  The dates assigned to the donation in both Epistles agreeing; namely, “in the beginning of the Gospel” here, and there, at the time of his first visit to Corinth.  However, the supply meant here is not that which he received at Corinth, but the supply sent to him when in Thessalonica, “once and again” (v. 16).

“no church communicated with me”
Literally:  “Not one church shared with me.” No church participated with me in my sufferings and necessities as to send to my relief. Comp. II Cor. 11:8-9. Why they had not done so, Paul does not tell us. It is not necessary to suppose that he meant to blame them. They might not have been acquainted with his necessities. All that is implied here is that he here specifically commends the Philippians for their attention to him.

“as concerning giving and receiving”
Literally:  “In {the} matter of giving and receiving”–The phrase, “giving and receiving” is a bookkeeping expression relating to credit and debit.  This is as if Paul were saying, “No other church opened an account with me except you.”       

 “but ye only.
 Literally:  “Except you only.” 

From the very beginning, the Philippian believers had been aiding Paul in his ministry.  In fact, they were the only church that had helped him financially.

“For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.”

“For even in Thessalonica”
Literally:  “Because even in Thessalonica.”  Even as early as when Paul was in Thessalonica, these Philippian beliers had more than once sent Paul supplies for his necessities (Acts 17:1).

Paul remained there long enough to establish a flourishing church. He met, indeed, with much opposition and persecution there; and hence it was necessary that his wants should be supplied by others. While laboring to plant the Church there, he was supported partly by working with his hands, I Thess. 2:9; II Thess. 3:7-9; and partly by the contributions sent him from Philippi. Even the Thessalonians had contributed little to his maintenance: this is not spoken to their credit.

“ye sent once and again unto my necessity.”
Literally:  “You sent to my need, both once and twice.”  For even in Thessalonica you sent once and again to my need. 

In light of the fact that Paul was in Thessalonica less than a month (Acts 17:2), it is significant that the Philippians sent two gifts in such a short time. This was really amazing considering his relatively brief time in both Philippi and Thessalonica.  Graphically, both towns were close together and connected by trade routes,  and messages and offerings could have gone back and forth between the two towns in a relatively short period of time.  Their intimate knowledge of his needs, and well as hiS location, shows their abiding interest  in his missionary efforts. 

        ONCE AND AGAIN:  (Grk.-hapax kai dis)—Literally:  “once or twice.”  See the same Greek idiom in I Thess.2:18.

“Not because I desire a gift:  but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”

“Not because I desire a gift:”
Literally:  “Not that I seek a gift.”  I do not speak thus to incite you to send me a farther gift; I speak this on the general subject, because I wish you to bear such fruit as shall abound to your account in the day of the Lord.

         “The reason why I rejoice in the reception of what you have sent to me is not that I am covetous.”  From the interest with which he had spoken of their attention to him, some might, perhaps, be disposed to say that it arose from this cause, he says, therefore, that, grateful as he was for the favor which he had received, his chief interest in it arose from the fact that it would contribute ultimately to their own good. It showed that they were governed by Christian principle, and this would not fail to be rewarded. What Paul states here is by no means impossible, though it may not be very common. In the reception of favors from others, it is practicable to rejoice in them mainly, because their bestowment will be a means of good to the benefactor himself.
         All our selfish feelings and gratifications may be absorbed and lost in the superior joy which we have in seeing others actuated by a right spirit, and in the belief that they will be rewarded. This feeling is one of the fruits of Christian kindness. It is that which leads us to look away from self, and to rejoice in every evidence that others will be made happy.

      DESIRE:  (Grk.-epizētō)—Literally:  “to inquire for; to seek after.”   This word is used twice in this verse, and is in the Greek present tense, and its usages would be literally translated as “not because I am seeking a gift,”  and I am seeking fruit.”  The word is found only in this verse and in Rom. 11:7 in the N.T.

         In effect, Paul is saying, “It isn’t that I desire a present from you for my own sake, although your gift touches my heart and make me glad.  I don’t need anything, for I have more than enough.  But I am glad that you gave me a gift for your own sake, for your kindness will stand greatly to your credit in the sight of God.”
         None of Paul’s words or actions were to be interpreted by the Philippians as indicating that he was seeking financial gifts from them. Their generosity made him glad, not for his own sake but for their sake.  He made it clear they understood that he was not moping around in a discouraged state because of his material needs.

“but I desire fruit”
Literally:  “But I seek the fruit.”

        FRUIT:  (Grk.-karpon)—Often used in the Scriptures, as elsewhere, to denote results, or that which is produced. Thus we speak of punishment as the fruit of sin, poverty as the fruit of idleness, and happiness as the fruit of a virtuous life. The language is taken from the fact, that a man reaps or gathers the fruit or result of that which he plants.     

“that may abound to your account.”
Literally:  “Multiplying to your account.” A phrase taken from commercial dealings. Paul wished that it might be set down to their credit, he desired that, when they came to appear before God, they might reap the benefit of all the acts of kindness which they had shown him.

        ACCOUNT:  (Grk.-logos)—This is thee same word Paul uses in v. 15 in the phrase, “concerning giving and receiving.”  The phrase in v. 15 is equivalent to having an account, for it was a First Century business expression.  In this v. 17 Paul is referring to credit placed on account of the PhilippianS because of their gift.  Just think!  A gift intended to benefit the receiver, became an even greater benefit to the giver!  How can this be?  Paul goes on to explain this in the  next verse.

“But I have all, and abounded:  I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the [things which were sent] from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.”

         “But I have all,–You have now sent me so much by Epaphroditus, that I abound in all the necessaries of life. The phrase here is equivalent to, “I have received everything. I have all I want, and desire no more.” He was entirely satisfied. What they had sent to him is, of course, now unknown. It is sufficient to know that it was of such a nature as to make his situation comfortable.

“an odor of a sweet smell,
Literally:  “An odor of sweet smell.” —Paul may here be referring to the burnt, meal (literally:  “grain”) and peace offerings mentioned in Lev. 1-3.  These offerings were voluntary acts of worship and considered a sweet savor to the Lord.  He may also be alluding to the Altar of Incense that stood just outside the Veil of the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and the Temple.

In effect, Paul is saying, “With what you have done to me, His servant, God is well pleased.” This does not mean that it was such an odor to Paul, but to God. Paul regarded it as an offering which they had made to God Himself; and he was persuaded that God would regard it as being acceptable to Him. They had doubtless made the offering, not merely from personal friendship for Paul, but because he was a minister of Christ, and from love to His cause; and Paul felt assured that this offering would be acceptable to Him.

        “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
        And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold {water} only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, He shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matt. 10:41-42).

         ODOR:  (Grk.–osmē)–Literally:  “fragrance, fragrant scent, sweet smelling.”  This refers, properly, to the pleasant fragrance produced in the temple by the burning of incense. Luke 1:9.

         SWEET SMELL: (Grk.–euōdia)–For we are unto God a sweet ssavor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish” II Cor. 2:15.

         The whole language here is taken from an act of worship; and Paul regarded what he had received from the Philippians as, in fact, a thank-offering to God, and as presented with the spirit of true devotion to Him. It was not, indeed, a formal act of worship; but it was acceptable to God as an expression of their regard for His cause. The Word of God places a high premium on thoughtful, loving gifts, especially when directed to those who are serving the Lord so well and suffering for Christ’s sake.  Our stewardship in temporal things is often a barometer of this spiritual condition, and thoughtfulness in sharing with others in relieving their needs is a part of having the mind of Christ Who gave so freely to us.
         A side thought–isn’t it interesting that the Greek word for “sweet smell” is the same as the name of the one of the two trouble-making women
(Euodia) of whom Paul spoke in v. 2.

“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

“But my God shall supply all your need”
Literally:  “And my God will supply every need of you.” As you have given to me in my distress, God will never suffer you to want without raising up help to you, as he raised you up for help to me.  To put it simply:  we can always rely on the Lord.  It is a shame that He cannot rely on us.

         This is a familiar verse to us, but it has been both used and misused by many Christians.  Some use it to attempt to obligate God to meet their desires in whatever area they care to specify  But notice, in the context, that it emphasizes aparticular reason for God’s meeting the needs of the Philippians. 
         They had themselves given of their means to support one of the Lord’s workers and because of that Paul was confident that God would meet their needs.  It would be legitimate to extend that principle not only beyond giving to those workers in the Lord’s work itself, but also to the expenses involved in the Lord’s work itself.  These people, who were already in poverty, had given beyond their means to help Paul.

MY GOD:  (Grk.–Theos mou)— Paul calls God here “my God,” to imply that God would reward their bounty to HIS servant, by “fully supplying” (literally, “fill to the full”) their every “need” (II Cor.9:8), even as they had “fully” supplied his “need” (vv. 16,18). My Master will fully repay you;  for I cannot. The Philippians invested their bounty well since it got them such a glorious return.

So often we forget the personalness of God; that is,  that He is a personal God, not just some abstract Being far off and untouchable.  He wants to be involved intimately in our daily lives:  to guide us, to counsel us, to correct us, and to just let us know that He is near and loves us.

“according to His riches in glory”– God does not give out of His riches; au contraire, He gives “according to” His riches, which are infinite.  There is no limit to God’s riches.  He does not just give believers enough to meet individual situations, but He bless them “with spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”  (Eph. 1:3).