encouragement . . . consolation: Paul here uses two Greek nouns that have a similar meaning. The word rendered “encouragement” (pa·raʹkle·sis) is broad in meaning. It can be rendered “encouragement,” as here and elsewhere (Ac 13:15; Heb 6:18), “exhortation” (1Th 2:3; 1Ti 4:13; Heb 12:5), or “comfort” (Ro 15:4; 2Co 1:3, 4; 2Th 2:16). (See study note on Ro 12:8.) The other Greek word (pa·ra·myʹthi·on), rendered “consolation,” comes from a Greek verb meaning “to console; to cheer up” or “to speak to someone in a positive, benevolent way.” (Compare study note on 1Co 14:3.) Paul seems to suggest that if the Philippians encourage and console one another, they will strengthen the bond of unity in the congregation.—Php 2:2.
any spiritual fellowship: Or “any sharing of spirit.” This expression refers to a close relationship involving mutual interests and sharing. (See study note on Ac 2:42, where the Greek word for “sharing; fellowship” is discussed.) In this and the following verse, Paul suggests that when Christians pursue spiritual goals together and work in harmony with the direction of God’s holy spirit, they develop a unity that the world cannot disrupt. (See study note on Php 2:2.) One Bible dictionary comments on the Greek word as used in this verse: “Such sharing requires a mindset that esteems others over oneself.”—2Co 13:14; see study note on Joh 17:21.
tender affection: In this context, the Greek term splagkhʹnon refers to deeply felt, intense emotions.—See study note on 2Co 6:12.
being completely united: The Greek word used here (synʹpsy·khos) is composed of syn (with; together) and psy·kheʹ, sometimes rendered “soul,” and could be rendered “united (joined together) in soul.” Paul uses this expression and several others in this context to emphasize that the Philippian Christians were to strive for unity.—See study note on Php 2:1.
egotism: An exaggerated opinion of self.—See study note on Ga 5:26, where a related Greek word is rendered “egotistical.”
humility: Or “lowliness of mind.”—See study note on Ac 20:19.
Keep this mental attitude in you: Or “Have this way of thinking in you.” The context shows that Jesus’ attitude was one of humility.—Php 2:3, 4.
although he was existing in God’s form: The Greek expression rendered “form” (mor·pheʹ) basically refers to “nature; appearance; shape; likeness.” Jesus was a spirit person just as “God is a Spirit.” (Joh 4:24 and study note) The same Greek term is used of Jesus’ taking “a slave’s form” when he “became flesh,” or became a human.—Joh 1:14.
gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God: Or “did not regard equality with God as something to be seized (grasped).” Paul here encourages the Philippians to cultivate an outstanding attitude like that of Jesus. At Php 2:3, Paul tells them: “With humility consider others superior to you.” In verse 5, he continues: “Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” Jesus, who considered God to be superior, never ‘grasped for equality with God.’ Instead, he “humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death.” (Php 2:8; Joh 5:30; 14:28; 1Co 15:24-28) Jesus’ view was not like that of the Devil, who urged Eve to make herself like God, to be equal to Him. (Ge 3:5) Jesus perfectly exemplified Paul’s point here—namely, the importance of humility and obedience to the Creator, Jehovah God.—See study note on a seizure in this verse.
a seizure: Or “a thing to be seized.” Lit., “a snatching.” The Greek noun used here (har·pag·mosʹ) is derived from the verb har·paʹzo, which has the basic meaning “to seize; to snatch.” Some have suggested that this term refers to retaining something already possessed. However, the Scriptures never use the Greek term to mean the holding on to something already in one’s possession. Rather, it is often rendered “seize” or “snatch (away)” or by other such expressions. (Mt 11:12; 12:29; 13:19; Joh 6:15; 10:12, 28, 29; Ac 8:39; 23:10; 2Co 12:2, 4; 1Th 4:17; Jude 23; Re 12:5) If Jesus “gave no consideration” to seizing equality with God, it must be that he was never equal to God.
he emptied himself: The Greek word rendered “emptied” literally means to remove the content of something. Here Paul uses the word figuratively with reference to Jesus, who gave up his spirit nature in order to live and suffer as a human on earth. Unlike angels who at times clothed themselves with fleshly bodies in order to appear to humans, Jesus completely relinquished his spirit body along with the glory and privileges associated with it. No human has ever sacrificed anything that comes close to what Jesus gave up in order to please God.
when he came as a man: Lit., “when he was found in appearance as a man (human).”—See study note on Php 2:6.
a torture stake: Or “an execution stake.” Jesus gave the most powerful lesson in humility and obedience by willingly submitting to “death on a torture stake,” wrongly condemned as a criminal and a blasphemer. (Mt 26:63-66; Lu 23:33; see Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake.”) He proved beyond a doubt that humans can remain loyal to Jehovah even when tested to the extreme.—Joh 5:30; 10:17; Heb 12:2.
kindly gave: The Greek verb used here (kha·riʹzo·mai) is related to the Greek term that is often translated “undeserved kindness” but that can also be rendered “divine favor.” (Joh 1:14 and study note) In this context, the term conveys the idea that God, out of his loving generosity and favor, gave Jesus an exalted name, one “that is above every other name.” Since God can choose to give such a name to his Son, Jesus, the Father must be greater and Jesus must be His subordinate. (Joh 14:28; 1Co 11:3) Therefore, any honor shown to Jesus because of this high position is “to the glory of God the Father.”—Php 2:11.
the name: In the Bible, the term “name” at times stands for more than just an identifying label. (See study note on Mt 24:9.) Here “the name” that God gave Jesus stands for the authority and position that Jesus receives from his Father. The context in Philippians chapter 2 shows that Jesus received this elevated name after his resurrection.—Mt 28:18; Php 2:8, 10, 11; Heb 1:3, 4.
every other name: A literal rendering of the Greek text (“every name,” Kingdom Interlinear), which is used in many translations, could give the impression that Jesus’ name is above God’s own name. However, such an idea would not agree with the context, for Paul says: “God exalted him [Jesus] to a superior position and kindly gave him” this name. Also, the Greek word for “every (all)” can in some contexts have the meaning “every other” or “all other.” Note, for example, the renderings at Lu 13:2 (“all other”); Lu 21:29 (“all the other”); Php 2:21 (“all the others”). So both the context and the way that this Greek word is used at other occurrences support the rendering “every other.” Paul is here explaining that Jesus’ name is above every other name, with the exception of that of Jehovah, the one who gave him that name.—See also 1Co 15:28.
in the name of Jesus every knee should bend: For every intelligent creature in heaven and on earth, bending the knee “in the name of Jesus” means recognizing Jesus’ position and submitting to his authority.—See study note on Mt 28:19.
those under the ground: Apparently referring to the dead, who Jesus said are “in the memorial tombs.” (Joh 5:28, 29) When they are resurrected from the Grave, they too will need to submit to Christ’s authority and “openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”—Php 2:11.
openly acknowledge: Or “publicly declare; confess.” The context shows that this acknowledgment is linked with the conviction that Jehovah resurrected Jesus from the dead.—Compare study note on Ro 10:9.
that Jesus Christ is Lord: See study note on Ro 10:9.
Lord: See study note on Ro 10:9. Some claim that the phrase “Jesus Christ is Lord” means that he and his Father, Jehovah, are the same person. However, the context makes it clear that this cannot be the case, since “God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name.”—Php 2:9; see study note on Ro 10:9.
presence . . . absence: Paul here uses the Greek word pa·rou·siʹa to describe a period of time when he would be present with the Christians in Philippi. The sense of this Greek word is indicated by Paul in describing his “presence” in contrast with his “absence” (Greek, a·pou·siʹa), that is, a period of time when he would be away from them. The Greek word pa·rou·siʹa is used in a special sense in connection with the invisible presence of Jesus Christ, from the time of his heavenly enthronement as Messianic King at the beginning of the last days of this system of things.—See study notes on Mt 24:3; 1Co 15:23; Php 1:26.
keep working out: The Greek word used here basically means “to achieve; to accomplish; to bring about.” The form of the verb used in this verse signifies an ongoing effort, thus conveying the idea of working to bring something to completion.
energizes you: Or “is acting within you.” The Greek word e·ner·geʹo appears twice in this verse, first rendered “energizes” and then “giving you . . . power to act.” God’s holy spirit, or active force, is the greatest source of power, or energy, in the universe. God used it to create all things. (Ge 1:2; Ps 104:30; Isa 40:26) By means of his holy spirit, Jehovah gives his servants the needed energy, or “power to act,” when their power is waning. (Isa 40:31) Jehovah’s spirit can also enhance a person’s natural abilities, according to the need. (Lu 11:13; 2Co 4:7) The apostle Paul often experienced this combination of personal exertion plus added assistance from God.—Php 4:13; Col 1:29.
giving you . . . the desire: Because of discouragement, personal failings, and other factors, some of God’s servants in the past lost their desire to serve—even to go on living. (1Ki 19:4; Ps 73:13, 14; Jon 4:2, 3) Paul here shows that when such desire is lacking, God is pleased to motivate them, especially when they seek help from Him.—Ps 51:10, 11; 73:17, 18.
free from murmuring: Murmuring involves complaining or negative talk that is often expressed quietly, behind the scenes, rather than openly. Persistent murmurers try to influence others. They may attach great importance to their feelings or position, drawing attention to themselves rather than to God. This practice can cause dissension among fellow believers, hindering their efforts to serve Jehovah in unity. About 55 C.E., Paul reminded the congregation in Corinth that the Israelites’ murmuring in the wilderness had aroused Jehovah’s anger. (See study note on 1Co 10:10.) However, not all complaining is displeasing to God. The Greek word used here also occurs at Ac 6:1, which states that the Greek-speaking Jews in Jerusalem “began complaining” because their widows were neglected materially. Consequently, the apostles saw to it that the situation was corrected.—Ac 6:1-6.
I am: Or “my life is.”—See study note on I am being poured out like a drink offering in this verse.
I am being poured out like a drink offering: The Israelites presented drink offerings of wine along with most other offerings, pouring out the cup of wine on the altar. (Le 23:18, 37; Nu 15:2, 5, 10; 28:7) Here Paul refers to himself as a figurative drink offering. He expressed his willingness to drain himself both physically and emotionally to support the Philippians and other fellow Christians as they presented their spiritual sacrifices and performed their “holy service” to God. (Compare 2Co 12:15.) Shortly before his death, he wrote to Timothy: “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my releasing is imminent.”—2Ti 4:6.
the holy service: Or “the public service.” Paul applies this term to the Christian ministry. His diligent and loving service in behalf of fellow worshippers in Philippi had truly benefited them. In turn, the faith of the Christians in Philippi had led them to engage in such service for other people. For Christians in the Roman colony of Philippi, the Greek word lei·tour·giʹa, used here, may have called to mind civic duties performed for the benefit of the community. (See study note on 2Co 9:12.) Such duties implied a financial cost, reminding the Philippians that faithful service involved personal sacrifices. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, these Greek terms are frequently used in connection with the temple service and the Christian ministry. For this usage, see study notes on Lu 1:23; Ac 13:2; Ro 13:6; 15:16.
I am hoping . . . to send Timothy to you: The account does not say whether Timothy was to make this trip from Rome to Philippi by land or by sea. Travelers went eastward from Rome along the highways that were part of the vast Roman road system, or they went by ship. Both options would involve hardship. In Timothy’s day, passage by ship was difficult to get, and passengers lived and slept on deck in all kinds of weather. Rough seas induced motion sickness and at times caused shipwreck. Traveling on foot to Philippi would have involved a trip of some 40 days, probably first along the Appian Way, followed by a short crossing of the Sea of Adria, and then continuing on the land journey, perhaps along the Egnatian Way, until the traveler reached Philippi. (See App. B13.) He would be exposed to the elements, whether sun, rain, heat, or cold, and be at risk of being accosted by thieves. Overnight accommodations of the time are described as disreputable, dirty, overcrowded, and flea-infested. (Compare study note on Ac 28:15.) Yet, Paul was confident that Timothy was willing to put himself out to make this trip, as well as the return trip, so that Paul could “receive news” about the spiritual welfare of the Christians in Philippi.
Epaphroditus: A trustworthy Christian in the congregation in Philippi who is mentioned only in this letter. He was sent to Rome to deliver a gift to Paul, who was a prisoner at the time. Epaphroditus likely intended to remain in Rome long enough to be of further assistance to Paul. However, Epaphroditus fell sick “nearly to the point of death,” and this led to his returning to Philippi earlier than expected.—Php 2:27, 28; see study notes on Php 2:26, 30.
envoy: Or “apostle.” Paul here uses the Greek word for “apostle” (a·poʹsto·los) in its general sense, which can mean “sent one,” “envoy,” or “messenger.” Epaphroditus was sent out as a representative of the Philippi congregation with a gift for Paul, then a prisoner in Rome.
is longing to see all of you: Some ancient manuscripts read “is longing for all of you,” and this wording is reflected in many Bible translations. But the wording used here in the main text has good manuscript support. Whichever manuscript reading is preferred, the overall meaning of Paul’s words is the same, namely, that Epaphroditus was missing all the Christians in Philippi.—See App. A3.
depressed: The Greek term Paul uses here is rendered “greatly troubled” in the accounts of Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane. (Mt 26:37; Mr 14:33) One lexicon defines it as to “be in anxiety, be distressed, troubled.” The reason for Epaphroditus’ acute anguish was that the Philippian congregation had learned that he had fallen sick. Perhaps he worried that they had the impression that he had failed to assist Paul and had become a burden to him instead. Shortly after Epaphroditus’ recovery, Paul sent him back to Philippi with a letter to the congregation. In that letter (Php 2:25-29), Paul explained the reason for Epaphroditus’ early return, thus assuring the congregation—and no doubt Epaphroditus too—of his faithfulness and value.—See study notes on Php 2:25, 30.
the work of Christ: Or possibly, “the Lord’s work.” Some ancient manuscripts have “Lord’s,” but the main text rendering has strong manuscript support.
risking his life: Or “exposing his soul to danger.” Apparently, there was a measure of risk to Epaphroditus in fulfilling his assignment to go to Rome and bring a gift to Paul in prison. One possibility may be that the unsanitary conditions of travel and overnight accommodations in the first century could have caused Epaphroditus to “fall sick nearly to the point of death.” (Php 2:26, 27) At any rate, Paul says that Epaphroditus “nearly died on account of the work of Christ.” Paul had good reason for commending Epaphroditus and for encouraging the Philippian congregation to give him “the customary welcome in the Lord” and to “keep holding men of that sort dear.”—Php 2:29; see study notes on Php 2:25, 26 and Glossary, “Soul.”