5. There are four parts: I. A testimony of Paul’s love for the Philippians, the advantage of his bonds, and an exhortation to holy conversation (Philippians 1). II. An exhortation to unity and humility, salvation to be worked out in fear and trembling, and shared joy (Philippians 2). III. A warning concerning seducers, and direction to pursue the righteousness of faith, perfection, and a conversation worthy of heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3). IV. An exhortation to concord, the consolation and commendation of beneficence (Philippians 4). Interpreters of the Epistle, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic; and also a Synoptic Table.
This Epistle has as many parts as it has chapters. For, first, Saint Paul, testifying of his love toward the Philippians, teaches the use of his bonds, and lays out his hope concerning the continuance of his life, and exhorts them to a holy conversation (Philippians 1). Second, he exhorts them to unity and humility, with the example of Christ set forth, and other things (Philippians 2). Third, he advises that seducers are to be avoided, and that true righteousness, and also perfection, is to be pursued (Philippians 3). Fourth, he exhorts to concord, spiritual joy, etc., and commends the liberality of the Philippians (Philippians 4).
I. Paul’s testimony of his love for the Philippians, the advantage of his bonds, and his exhortation to a holy conversation, Chapter 1.
Saint Paul, with the inscription and a prayer going before (verses 1, 2), giving thanks to God for the communion that the Philippians have with the Gospel, testifies of his own, incredibly intense love towards them, and, praying that their love might abound more and more in all knowledge and judgment (verses 3-11), asserts that his bonds are useful for the constancy of the brethren, although many preach Christ out of envy (verses 12-18); he sets forth his hope concerning the continuation of his life and ministry, although he is prepared to depart (verses 19-26); and, finally, he exhorts them to holy conversation, constancy, and a striving similar to his own (verses 27-30): chapter 1.
II. His exhortation to unity and humility, the working out of salvation with fear and trembling, and shared joy, Chapter 2.
He strongly pleads that they think the same thing, have the same love, in humility esteem others better than themselves, and not each regard his own things, but the things of others, after the example of Christ, who emptied Himself for us, and was therefore exalted (verses 1-11); that they work out their salvation with fear and trembling, doing nothing with murmuring, but shining in the world as lights, for his glory and joy (verses 12-17); that they rejoice with him (verse 18), with the sending of Timothy promised for the future, through whom they might know his state (verses 19-24), and with Epaphroditus sent for the present, so that they might rejoice in his recovery, and he himself might be less sorrowful (verses 25-30): chapter 2.
III. His forewarning of seducers, and direction to pursue true righteousness and perfection, and a conversation worthy of heavenly citizenship, Chapter 3.
With joy again enjoined, he commands to avoid dogs, evil workers, the concision, since they are the circumcision that glory in Christ, and have no confidence in the flesh (verses 1-3), while also he, having confidence in the flesh, nevertheless considers all things loss because of Christ, that he might be found in Him, having a righteousness, not by the law, but by faith, and know the power of His resurrection (verses 4-11); not that he had already apprehended the goal, but that he was pursuing it (verses 12-14); when he exhorts the perfect to think the same thing, bidding in the remaining things to await the revelation of God (verses 15, 16) in imitation of himself (verse 17); he threatens destruction upon enemies walking contrariwise (verses 18, 19), and reveals to believers a citizenship in Heaven, whence Christ comes, being about to conform us to himself (verses 20, 21): chapter 3.
IV. His exhortation to concord; the consolation and commendation of their beneficence toward him, Chapter 4.
Exhorting Euodias and Syntyche, together with all the brethren, to concord (verses 1-3), he commends joy, modesty, and prayer (verses 4-6), promises the peace of God (verse 7), prescribes what things are honest (verses 8, 9), testifies of his joy over their care and beneficence toward him (verses 10-19), and closes with the praise of God and a greeting (verses 20-23): chapter 4.