1:1 Paul {1} and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the {a} bishops and deacons:

(1) The Paul's point in writing this epistle, is to strengthen and encourage the Philippians by all means possible, not to faint, but more than that, to go forward. And first of all he commends their former deeds, to exhort them to go forward: which thing he says he fully hopes they will do, and that by the testimony of their abundant charity. But in the meantime he refers all things to the grace of God.

(a) By the bishops are meant both the pastors who have the dispensation of the word, and the elders that govern: and by deacons are meant those that were stewards of the treasury of the Church, and had to look after the poor.

1:1 Greetings from a Roman Prison


Greetings to the Church and Its Officers. Reasons for Thanksgiving. The Progress of the Gospel in Rome. Different Motives for Preaching the Gospel. The Apostle's Desire to Depart and Be with Christ. Exhortations to Unity and Fortitude.

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ. The beloved Timothy was attending and aiding Paul at Rome. The name of Timothy appears at the head of several Epistles (2Co 1:1 Col 1:1 1Th 1:1 2Th 1:1 Phm 1:1). In this letter to be a beloved church, so devoted to him, Paul does not refer to his apostleship in his greeting, as in preceding Epistles (Ro 1:1 1Co 1:1 2Co 1:1 Ga 1:1 Eph 1:1), as one speaking with authority, but exhorts them as a fellow-servant of Christ.

To all the saints in Christ Jesus. Every one in Christ, i.e. every Christian was and is a saint.

With the bishops and deacons. We find two classes of officers in this church organized by an apostle. There was a plurality of each class. All commentators agree that the bishops and the elders of the primitive church are the same, only different names of the same office. Paul calls the elders of Ephesus bishops (see Ac 20:17 in the Revised Version). Also in Titus 1:5,7 he calls an elder a bishop. For the duties of this office, see notes on 1Ti 3:2-7 Titus 1:5-9. The word overseer, which is a literal translation of the Greek word episkopos, suggests the nature of the office. The duties of the deacons are supposed to be explained by the work of the Seven Deacons ordained in the church at Jerusalem. See Ac 6:1,2. See PNT 1Ti 3:8.

1:1 Servants - St. Paul, writing familiarly to the Philippians, does not style himself an apostle. And under the common title of servants, he tenderly and modestly joins with himself his son Timotheus, who had come to Philippi not long after St. Paul had received him, Acts 16:3,12. To all the saints - The apostolic epistles were sent more directly to the churches, than to the pastors of them. With the bishops and deacons - The former properly took care of the internal state, the latter, of the externals, of the church, 1Tim 3:2 - 8; although these were not wholly confined to the one, neither those to the other. The word bishops here includes all the presbyters at Philippi, as well as the ruling presbyters: the names bishop and presbyter, or elder, being promiscuously used in the first ages.

1:1-7 The highest honour of the most eminent ministers is, to be servants of Christ. And those who are not really saints on earth, never will be saints in heaven. Out of Christ, the best saints are sinners, and unable to stand before God. There is no peace without grace. Inward peace springs from a sense of Divine favour. And there is no grace and peace but from God our Father, the fountain and origin of all blessings. At Philippi the apostle was evil entreated, and saw little fruit of his labour; yet he remembers Philippi with joy. We must thank our God for the graces and comforts, gifts and usefulness of others, as we receive the benefit, and God receives the glory. The work of grace will never be perfected till the day of Jesus Christ, the day of his appearance. But we may always be confident God will perform his good work, in every soul wherein he has really begun it by regeneration; though we must not trust in outward appearances, nor in any thing but a new creation to holiness. People are dear to their ministers, when they receive benefit by their ministry. Fellow-sufferers in the cause of God should be dear one to another.