Philippians 4:10-23

10 But I rejoiced 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 rejoiced in the Lord] Every good comes from God, either immediately from his providence or from his grace; therefore the apostle 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.

[Hath flourished again] They had helped him before, chapter 2:25, they had ceased for a time and now they begin again. He uses a word which is a metaphor taken from the revival of flowers in spring which seemed dead in winter. For the time in which they were apparently remiss he makes a delicate apology, "Ye were careful, but ye lacked opportunity", or rather ye had not ability.

11 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] 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.

[For I have learned] 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 the 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 murmering and complaining?

12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

[I to be abased] I have passed through all these conditions; I know how to conduct myself in each, and how to extract good from all. And he 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 hands of God in the whole.
See here the state to which God had permitted his chief apostle to be reduced! And 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 the complaints are loud and frequent and patience grows short.

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

[I can do all things] It was not a habit which he had acquired by frequent exercise, it was a disposition which he had acquired by grace; and he was enabled to do all by the power of an indwelling Christ. Through Him who strengtheneth me is the reading of some of the best manuscripts, versions and fathers.

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

[Ye have well done] Though I have learned all of these important lessons and am never miserable in want, yet ye have done well in sending me relief in the time of affliction.

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.

[In the beginning of the Gospel] When, having preached to you, I went forth into Macedonia, I received help from none of the churches which I had founded, but from you alone. I received nothing from the others, and nothing was offered me.

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

[For even in Thessalonica] While laboring to plant the church there, he was supported partly by working with his hands, 1 Thess. 2:9, 2 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.

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

[Not because I desire a gift] I do not speak thus to incite you to send me a further 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.

18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

[I have all] Ye have now sent me so much by Epaphroditus that I abound in all the necessities of life.

[Having received...all things] Probably a supply of clothes and such necessities, as well as money.

[An odor of a sweet smell] Alluding to the sacrifices offered up under the law. With what ye have done to me, his servant, God is well pleased.

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

[My God shall supply all your need] As you have given to me in my distress, God will never suffer you to want without raising help to you, as he raised you up for help to me.

[According to his riches] His fullness is infinite and through Christ, whose followers we are, he will dispense every requisite blessing of providence, grace and glory to you.

20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

[Now unto God and our Father] God is our father in Jesus Christ and such pity as a father hath for his children, such has the Lord for them that fear him; as a father is concerned for the support and life of his children, so is God concerned for you. A father may be poor and unable to help his most beloved children; God your Father is infinite in the riches of his grace and glory, and out of his abundance we have all received, and grace for grace. Therefore, to God our Father be glory for ever and ever!

21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.

[Salute every saint] Remember to present my affectionate wishes to every Christian at Philippi.

[The brethren who are with me] Those who were fellow laborers with him, generally supposed to be Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, Epaphras, Luke and Demas.

22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.

[All the saints] All the Christians now at Rome.

[They that are of Ceasar's household] Nero was at this time emporor of Rome; a more worthless, cruel and diabolic wretch never disgraced the name or form of man; yet in his family were Christians: but whether this relates to members of the imperial family, or to guards, or courtiers, or to servants we cannot tell. If even some of the slaves were converted to Christianity, that would be sufficiently marvelous. Converts in this family there certainly were; and this shows how powerfully the Divine word had been preached and spread. That the empress, Poppaea, may have been favorable inclined to Christianity is possible. Josephas relates of her, "She was a worshipper of the true God." It is not likely, therefore, that she threw any hinderances in the way of her servants who might wish to embrace the Christian faith. Jerome states that Paul had converted many in Ceasar's family, "Being by the emperor cast into prison, he became the more known to his family, and he turned the house of Christ's persecutor into a church."

23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

The usual Apostolical bennediction.

Historical information drawn from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 10/16/2006

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