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Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Epistle
The Apostle's Thankfulness and Joy. A. D. 62.
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 

The apostle proceeds after the inscription and benediction to thanksgiving for the saints at Philippi. He tells them what it was he thanked God for, upon their account. Observe here,

I. Paul remembered them: he bore them much in his thoughts; and though they were out of sight, and he was at a distance from them, yet they were not out of his mind: or, Upon every mention of you--epi pase te mneia. As he often thought of them, so he often spoke of them, and delighted to hear them spoken of. The very mention of them was grateful to him: it is a pleasure to hear of the welfare of an absent friend.

II. He remembered them with joy. At Philippi he was maltreated; there he was scourged and put into the stocks, and for the present saw little of the fruit of his labour; and yet he remembers Philippi with joy. He looked upon his sufferings for Christ as his credit, his comfort, his crown, and was pleased at every mention of the place where he suffered. So far was he from being ashamed of them, or loth to hear of the scene of his sufferings, that he remembered it with joy.

III. He remembered them in prayer: Always in every prayer of mine for you all, v. 4. The best remembrance of our friends is to remember them at the throne of grace. Paul was much in prayer for his friends, for all his friends, for these particularly. It should seem, by this manner of expression, that he mentioned at the throne of grace the several churches he was interested in and concerned for particularly and by name. He had seasons of prayer for the church at Philippi. God gives us leave to be thus free with him, though, for our comfort, he knows whom we mean when we do not name them.

IV. He thanked God upon every joyful remembrance of them. Observe, Thanksgiving must have a part in every prayer; and whatsoever is the matter of our rejoicing ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving. What we have the comfort of, God must have the glory of. He thanked God, as well as made requests with joy. As holy joy is the heart and soul of thankful praise, so thankful praise is the lip and language of holy joy.

V. As in our prayers, so in our thanksgiving, we must eye God as our God: I thank my God. It encourages us in prayer, and enlarges the heart in praise, to see every mercy coming from the hand of God as our God.--I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. We must thank our God for others' graces and comforts, and gifts and usefulness, as we receive the benefit of them, and God receives glory by them. But what is the matter of this thanksgiving? 1. He gives thanks to God for the comfort he had in them: for your fellowship in the gospel, from the first day until now, v. 5. Observe, Gospel fellowship is a good fellowship; and the meanest Christians have fellowship in the gospel with the greatest apostles, for the gospel salvation is a common salvation ( Jude 3), and they obtain like precious faith with them, 2 Pet. i. 1. Those who sincerely receive and embrace the gospel have fellowship in it from the very first day: a new-born Christian, if he is true-born, is interested in all the promises and privileges of the gospel from the first day of his becoming such.--Until now. Observe, It is a great comfort to ministers when those who begin well hold on and persevere. Some, by their fellowship in the gospel, understand their liberality towards propagating the gospel, and translate koinonia, not communion, but communication. But, comparing it with Paul's thanksgiving on the account of other churches, it rather seems to be taken more generally for the fellowship which they had, in faith, and hope, and holy love, with all good Christians--a fellowship in gospel promises, ordinances, privileges, and hopes; and this from the first day until now. 2. For the confidence he had concerning them (v. 6): Being confident of this very thing, &c. Observe, The confidence of Christians is the great comfort of Christians, and we may fetch matter of praise from our hopes as well as from our joys; we must give thanks not only for what we have the present possession and evidence of, but for what we have the future prospect of. Paul speaks with much confidence concerning the good estate of others, hoping well concerning them in the judgment of charity, and being confident in the judgment of faith that if they were sincere they would be happy: That he who has begun a good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ. A good work among you--en hymin, so it may be read: understand it, in the general, of the planting of the church among them. He who hath planted Christianity in the world will preserve it as long as the world stands. Christ will have a church till the mystery of God shall be finished and the mystical body completed. The church is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. But it is rather to be applied to particular persons, and then it speaks of the certain accomplishment of the work of grace wherever it is begun. Observe here, (1.) The work of grace is a good work, a blessed work; for it makes us good, and is an earnest of good to us. It makes us like God, and fits us for the enjoyment of God. That may well be called a good work which does us the greatest good. (2.) Wherever this good work is begun it is of God's beginning: He has begun a good work in you. We could not begin it ourselves, for we are by nature dead in trespasses and sins: and what can dead men do towards raising themselves to life; or how can they begin to act till they are enlivened in the same respect in which they are said to be dead? It is God who quickens those who are thus dead, Eph. ii. 1; Col. ii. 13. (3.) The work of grace is but begun in this life; it is not finished here; as long as we are in this imperfect state there is something more to be done. (4.) If the same God who begins the good work did not undertake the carrying on and finishing of it, it would lie for ever unfinished. He must perform it who began it. (5.) We may be confident, or well persuaded, that God not only will not forsake, but that he will finish and crown the work of his own hands. For, as for God, his work is perfect. (6.) The work of grace will never be perfected till the day of Jesus Christ, the day of his appearance. When he shall come to judge the world, and finish his mediation, then this work will be complete, and the top-stone will be brought forth with shouting. We have the same expression, v. 10.

The Apostle's Affection and Hope. A. D. 62.
7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 

The apostle expresses the ardent affection he had for them, and his concern for their spiritual welfare: I have you in my heart, v. 7. He loved them as his own soul, and they lay near his heart. He thought much of them, and was in care about them. Observe, 1. Why he had them in his heart: Inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace; that is, they had received benefit by him and by his ministry; they were partakers of that grace of God which by him, and through his hands, was communicated to them. This makes people dear to their ministers--their receiving benefit by their ministry. Or, "You are partakers of my grace, you have joined with me in doing and suffering." They were partakers of his affliction by sympathy and concern, and readiness to assist him. Thus he calls being partakers of his grace; for those who suffer with the saints are and shall be comforted with them; and those shall share in the reward, who bear their part of the burden. He loved them because they adhered to him in his bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel: they were as ready to appear in their places, and according to their capacity, for the defence of the gospel, as the apostle was in his; and therefore he had them in his heart. Fellow sufferers should be dear one to another; those who have ventured and suffered in the same good cause of God and religion should for that reason love one another dearly: or, because you have me at heart--dia to echein me en te kardia hymas. They manifested their respect for him by adhering firmly to the doctrine he preached, and readily suffering for it along with him. The truest mark of respect towards our ministers is receiving and abiding by the doctrine they preach. 2. The evidence of it: It is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart. By this it appeared that he had them in his heart, because he had a good opinion of them and good hopes concerning them. Observe, It is very proper to think the best of other people, and as well as we can of them--to suppose as well of them as the matter will admit in all cases. 3. An appeal to God concerning the truth of this (v. 8): For God is my record how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. Having them in his heart, he longed after them; either he longed to see them, longed to hear from them, or he longed for their spiritual welfare and their increase and improvement in knowledge and grace. He had joy in them (v. 4), because of the good he saw and heard of among them; yet still he longed after them, to hear of more of it among them; and he longed after them all, not only those among them who were witty and wealthy, but even the meanest and poorest; and he longed greatly after them, or with strong affection and great good-will; and this in the bowels of Jesus Christ, with that tender concern which Christ himself has and has shown to precious souls. Paul was herein a follower of Christ, and all good ministers should aim to be so. O the bowels of compassion which are in Jesus Christ to poor souls! It was in compassion to them that he undertook their salvation, and put himself to so vast an expense to compass it. Now, in conformity to the example of Christ, Paul had a compassion for them, and longed after them all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. Shall not we pity and love those souls whom Christ had such a love and pity for? For this he appeals to God: God is my record. It was an inward disposition of mind that he expressed towards them, to the sincerity of which God only was witness, and therefore to him he appeals. "Whether you know it or not, or are sensible of it, God, who knows the heart, knows it."

The Apostle's Affection and Hope. A. D. 62.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. 

These verses contain the prayers he put up for them. Paul often let his friends know what it was he begged of God for them, that they might know what to beg for themselves and be directed in their own prayers, and that they might be encouraged to hope they should receive from God the quickening, strengthening, everlasting, comforting grace, which so powerful an intercessor as Paul asked of God for them. It is an encouragement to us to know that we are prayed for by our friends, who, we have reason to think, have an interest at the throne of grace. It was intended likewise for their direction in their walk, and that they might labour to answer his prayers for them; for by this it would appear that God had answered them. Paul, in praying thus for them, expected good concerning them. It is an inducement to us to do our duty, that we may not disappoint the expectations of praying friends and ministers. He prayed, 1. That they might be a loving people, and that good affections might abound among them; That your love might abound yet more and more. He means it of their love to God, and one another, and all men. Love is the fulfilling both of the law and of the gospel. Observe, Those who abound much in any grace have still need to abound more and more, because there is still something wanting in it and we are imperfect in our best attainments. 2. That they might be a knowing and judicious people: that love might abound in knowledge and in all judgment. It is not a blind love that will recommend us to God, but a love grounded upon knowledge and judgment. We must love God because of his infinite excellence and loveliness, and love our brethren because of what we see of the image of God upon them. Strong passions, without knowledge and a settled judgment, will not make us complete in the will of God, and sometimes do more hurt than good. The Jews had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, and were transported by it to violence and rage, Rom. x. 2; John xvi. 2. 3. That they might be a discerning people. This would be the effect of their knowledge and judgment: That you may approve the things which are excellent (v. 10); or, as it is in the margin, Try the things which differ; eis to dokimazein humas ta diapheronta, that we may approve the things which are excellent upon the trial of them, and discern their difference from other things. Observe, The truths and laws of Christ are excellent things; and it is necessary that we every one approve them, and esteem them such. We only need to try them, to approve of them; and they will easily recommend themselves to any searching and discerning mind. 4. That they might be an honest upright-hearted people: That you may be sincere. Sincerity is our gospel perfection, that in which we should have our conversation in the world, and which is the glory of all our graces. When the eye is single, when we are inward with God in what we do, are really what we appear to be, and mean honestly, then we are sincere. 5. That they might be an inoffensive people: that you may be without offence until the day of Christ; not apt to take offence; and very careful not to give offence to God or their brethren, to live in all good conscience before God (Acts xxiii. 1), and to exercise ourselves to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men, Acts xxiv. 16. And we must continue to the end blameless, that we may be presented so at the day of Christ. He will present the church without spot or wrinkle (Eph. v. 27), and present believers faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, Jude 24. 6. That they might be a fruitful useful people (v. 11): Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, &c. From God is our fruit found, and therefore from him it must be asked. The fruits of righteousness are the evidences and effects of our sanctification, the duties of holiness springing from a renewed heart, the root of the matter in us. Being filled with them. Observe, Those who do much good should still endeavour to do more. The fruits of righteousness, brought forth for the glory of God and edification of his church, should really fill us, and wholly take us up. Fear not being emptied by bringing forth the fruits of righteousness, for you will be filled with them. These fruits are by Jesus Christ, by his strength and grace, for without him we can do nothing. He is the root of the good olive, from which it derives its fatness. We are strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. ii. 1) and strengthened with might by his Spirit (Eph. iii. 16), and they are unto the glory and praise of God. We must not aim at our own glory in our fruitfulness, but at the praise and glory of God, that God may be glorified in all things (1 Peter iv. 11), and whatsoever we do we must do all to the glory of God, 1 Cor. x. 31. It is much for the honour of God, when Christians not only are good, but do good, and abound in good works.