BLTC Press Titles


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The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian


Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett


The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely


Paul's Joy in Christ

by A. T. Robertson

Excerpt:

1. Memory (verse 3).

"Upon all my remembrance of you." The words could mean " upon all your remembrance of me," but the other is probably the idea. It cannot' be

1 npoffeu%6fievot ufmouv Tov Oe6v. Almost as if the prayer was a song.

* Because of raay rjj fivet'a (the article). Cf. Robertson, '* Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research," pp. 769 f.

"upon every remembrance." Paul is not thinking of isolated memories of Philippi, but of the total picture that is still vivid in his mind. There were unpleasant memories of Philippi if he cared to dwell upon them, the rage of the masters of the poor girl whom Paul set free and the conduct of the magistrates and the populace towards Paul. But these were not part of the flock in Philippi. Even there Paul knows of unpleasantness between two women (Phil. 4: 2 f.) and of others who seek their own desires (3 : 17). But time and distance mellow one's memories in a gracious way, particularly in the case of an old pastor who no longer feels the petty irritations that once were so keen. Fortunately also the people forget their grudges against the pastor, now that he is gone. Paul will not allow specks to spoil the whole. So he meditates upon the names and faces of the saints at Philippi with his marvellous faculty for recalling them, happy trait for any preacher who can thus bind people to him. Time blurs names and faces for most of us, but Paul has zest in the life of people. He is fond of folks and joys in them through the haze of the past, in all of them. Indeed, it almost sounds as if Paul did nothing else but dream about the Philippians, "always in every supplication."' Memories of his work all over the world came to him often in moments of despair and of cheer

1 He plays upon the word "all ": ndarj, ndvrore, ndey, itdvrmv.

(cf. 2 Cor. 11). These hallowed associations with the elect of earth spur one on to fresh endeavour. One feeds upon rich experiences of grace, like those at Northfield, and can go in the strength of this meat for many days.

2. Gratitude (verse 3).

Gratitude springs out of memory, bubbling up like a fountain. His feeling of gratitude1 rests upon' the happy and holy memories of his days with the Philippians and their kindness to him. Paul always has something to thank God for in the churches to which he writes, save in the case of the Galatians, whose sudden defection shocked him severely. Even in Corinth he finds much to praise. Paul is a man of prayer and gratitude to God is an essential element in real prayer. "The great people of the earth to-day are the people of prayer. The greatest force of the day is prayer" (Baskerville, " Sidelights on the Epistle to the Philippians," p. 6). But nowhere is Paul in more grateful mood than in this Epistle of joy and suffering. He " dwells long and fondly on the' subject" (Lightfoot, in loco). The Western

1 eu/aptariw is condemned by the Atticists, but is good Koine and occurs in the papyri (Deissmann, " Bible Studies," p. 122) and from Polybius on. The vulgate gratias ago is a good deal like cu/d/xaroy (from E5 and %aplZi>fiat').

7 int here in a semi-local (Ellicott) or ethico-local (Kennedy) sense.

text' makes Paul emphatic in the assertion of his gratitude, suggesting that the Philippians had written Paul a letter with the gifts which Epaphroditus brought. Perhaps also they may have imagined a slight lack of cordiality on Paul's part (Kennedy, in loco), because some time had elapsed with no word of appreciation from him. But the sickness of Epaphroditus explains his delay and he repeats his gratitude with emphasis. One of the common faults of men is failure to express gratitude for the simple courtesies and favours of life. It costs little to say "Thank you," and this word smooths out many wrinkles of care. Paul certainly had not meant to be derelict in this grace and amply atones for his apparent neglect by this beautiful Epistle which is a model of Christian courtesy. His gratitude is in no sense the Frenchman's definition, a lively sense of favours expected. This notion is repellent to Paul (Phil. 4: 17). It must be admitted that many a life is embittered by lack of gratitude and appreciation on the part of those who matter most.


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