Verses 14–18

The apostle exhorts them in these verses to adorn their Christian profession by a suitable temper and behaviour, in several instances. 1. By a cheerful obedience to the commands of God (Phil. 2:14): “Do all things, do your duty in every branch of it, without murmurings. Do it, and do not find fault with it. Mind your work, and do not quarrel with it.” God’s commands were given to be obeyed, not to be disputed. This greatly adorns our profession, and shows we serve a good Master, whose service is freedom and whose work is its own reward. 2. By peaceableness and love one to another. “Do all things without disputing, wrangling, and debating one another; because the light of truth and the life of religion are often lost in the heats and mists of disputation.” 3. By a blameless conversation towards all men (Phil. 2:15): “That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke; that you be not injurious to any in word or deed, and give no just occasion of offence.” We should endeavour not only to be harmless, but to be blameless; not only not to do hurt, but not to come under the just suspicion of it. Blameless and sincere; so some read it. Blameless before men, sincere towards God. The sons of God. It becomes those to be blameless and harmless who stand in such a relation, and are favoured with such a privilege. The children of God should differ from the sons of men. Without rebukeamometa. Momus was a carping deity among the Greeks, mentioned by Hesiod and Lucian, who did nothing himself, and found fault with every body and every thing. From him all carpers at other men, and rigid censurers of their works, were called Momi. The sense of the expression is, “Walk so circumspectly that Momus himself may have no occasion to cavil at you, that the severest censurer may find no fault with you.” We should aim and endeavour, not only to get to heaven, but to get thither without a blot; and, like Demetrius, to have a good report of all men, and of the truth, 3 John 1:12. In the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; that is, among the heathens, and those who are without. Observe, Where there is no true religion, little is to be expected but crookedness and perverseness; and the more crooked and perverse others are among whom we live, and the more apt to cavil, the more careful we should be to keep ourselves blameless and harmless. Abraham and Lot must not strive, because the Canaanite and Perizzite dwelt in the land, Gen. 13:7. Among whom you shine as lights in the world. Christ is the light of the world, and good Christians are lights in the world. When God raises up a good man in any place, he sets up a light in that place. Or it may be read imperatively: Among whom shine you as lights: compare Matt. 5:16; Let your light so shine before men. Christians should endeavour not only to approve themselves to God, but to recommend themselves to others, that they may also glorify God. They must shine as well as be sincere.—Holding forth the word of life, Phil. 2:16. The gospel is called the word of life because it reveals and proposes to us eternal life through Jesus Christ. Life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel, 2 Tim. 1:10. It is our duty not only to hold fast, but to hold forth the word of life; not only to hold it fast for our own benefit, but to hold it forth for the benefit of others, to hold it forth as the candlestick holds forth the candle, which makes it appear to advantage all around, or as the luminaries of the heavens, which shed their influence far and wide. This Paul tells them would be his joy: “That I may rejoice in the day of Christ; not only rejoice in your stedfastness, but in your usefulness.” He would have them think his pains well bestowed, and that he had not run in vain, nor laboured in vain. Observe, (1.) The work of the ministry requires the putting forth of the whole man: all that is within us is little enough to be employed in it; as in running and labouring. Running denotes vehemence and vigour, and continual pressing forward; labour denotes constancy and close application. (2.) It is a great joy to ministers when they perceive that they have not run in vain, nor laboured in vain; and it will be their rejoicing in the day of Christ, when their converts will be their crown. What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For you are our glory and joy, 1 Thess. 2:19, 20. The apostle not only ran and laboured for them with satisfaction, but shows that he was ready to suffer for their good (Phil. 2:17): Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all. He could reckon himself happy if he could promote the honour of Christ, the edification of the church, and the welfare of the souls of men; though it were not only by hazarding, but by laying down, his life: he could willingly be a sacrifice at their altars, to serve the faith of God’s elect. Could Paul think it worth while to shed his blood for the service of the church, and shall we think it much to take a little pains? Isa. not that worth our labour which he thought worth his life? If I be offered, or poured out as the wine of the drink-offerings, spendomai. 2 Tim. 4:6; I am now ready to be offered. He could rejoice to seal his doctrine with his blood (Phil. 2:18): For the same cause also do you joy and rejoice with me. It is the will of God that good Christians should be much in rejoicing; and those who are happy in good ministers have a great deal of reason to joy and rejoice with them. If the minister loves the people, and is willing to spend and be spent for their welfare, the people have reason to love the minister and to joy and rejoice with him.