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Paul's Epistle to the Philippians Part 2: Repairers of the Breach
Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, is a God of love. But the so-called Christians of the denominational churches generally would not understand such a statement, because they focus on the things which that “mean old God of the Old Testament” hates. They also do not understand that hate can be righteous, especially when hate is a matter of defending those things which one loves. In the Old Testament, Yahweh expresses a love for His original Creation, and He expresses hatred for those who would corrupt that Creation: or who themselves are a corruption of Creation. Likewise, Yahweh loves those ideas expressed in His law which allow the maintenance and preservation of His Creation, and Yahweh hates ideas and acts which violate those laws. But bad ideas cannot be destroyed, they can only be accepted or rejected by men. For that reason, Yahweh destroyed Sodom, and not Sodomy, because the Sodomites had put bad ideas into practice. So Yahweh expects His people to love His law, as His law preserves both His Creation and His people.
Yahshua Christ is the incarnation in the flesh of that same Old Testament God, Yahweh. As Isaiah had prophesied, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” For this same reason, in his epistle to the Colossians, Paul also professed that “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Yahshua Christ often expressed His Own hatred for those same things which the Old Testament God had hated, but most denominational Christians only know the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount, and they reject the Jesus of the Apocalypse, whom they are ultimately going to get whether they like Him or not.
However, at the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was telling some of the descendants of the same Old Testament Israelites how they should treat one another, in order to preserve themselves as a people of God, just as we also may read in those parts of the Old Testament which most denominational Christians ignore. For instance, in that same sermon Yahshua Christ had professed that “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (in Matthew 5:43), and elsewhere He had also informed His followers that this principle was one of the great commandments of the law. We read this in Mark chapter 12: “29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, 'Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.'”
But if one searches the through Old Testament for those laws which are popularly called the ten commandments, one will not find among them any commandment to “love thy neighbour as thyself” as the ten commandments are given in Scripture, in Exodus chapter 20 or in Deuteronomy chapter 5. In fact, the commandment to “love thy neighbour as thyself” is found in the Old Testament only in Leviticus chapter 19, in the instructions in the law for the priests. Today's denominational Christians are errantly persuaded that the rest of the law was somehow done away with, when in reality, it was only the rituals and ceremonial ordinances that were done away with, and, as Paul attests in Romans chapter 3, Christians are obliged to establish the law, in reference to the commandments of the law.
Before we begin our presentation of Philippians chapter 2, we shall discuss Isaiah chapter 58, because this is one place in the Old Testament that Yahweh demonstrates how the children of Israel were expected to love their neighbours as themselves. When we begin to understand passages such as Isaiah chapter 58, we may also begin to understand why Christ taught as He did in regard to the Sabbath: that the Sabbath was not appointed for those reasons which the Pharisees imagined, but rather, so that the children of Israel could do good for one another, and He made that constant example while His enemies criticized Him for it.
From the King James Version, Isaiah chapter 58: “1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.” These first two verses portray the children of Israel prophetically in an ideal way, where they are seeking the ways of their God, and they are something of an introduction to a dialogue, where the next speaker is the nation collectively. The King James Version added some words to make this apparent:
“3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? [The children of Israel complain that their fasting was not recognized by their God, and, next in turn, Yahweh responds to their complaint:] Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. 4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?” With this, it should be evident that the children of Israel were fasting for the sake of their own satisfaction, which was for self-justification and a way to exalt themselves above their neighbours. In their fasting they were competing with their brethren in order to establish their own righteousness, and in verse 5 Yahweh informs them that this is not a fast which He had appointed. This describes what we today call asceticism, doing without for reasons of self-righteousness and self-justification, and it is evident that there is no salvation in this sort of asceticism.
So Isaiah continues with the dialogue where Yahweh explains reasons for fasting which would be agreeable to Him: “6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? [This last phrase of verse 7 shows that Christian concern should be for those of their own race. We shall see Paul of Tarsus teaches that very thing here in Philippians chapter 2.] 8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. 9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; [removing the burdens from one's brethren rather than justifying oneself] 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: 11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”
Here we see that the children of Israel were not called to fast in order to establish their own righteousness. Rather, by fasting, they are encouraged to do without so that they could impart it to those of their brethren that have greater need. That is true Godly fasting: doing without some bread, or some greater pleasure, so that one may offer sustenance to one's needy brethren, as it says here in verse 7: “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?” In these verses we then see that the abstention from vanity and the idea of self-sacrifice for the building up of our brethren shall bring great rewards. Those rewards are depicted as the flourishing prosperity of both oneself, one's descendants. and one's people.
Then, in the final verses of this chapter of Isaiah, we see that the sabbaths are to be employed for that same reason, and the Word of God continues: “13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” Most denominational so-called Christians spend their sabbath days at football games or in front of televisions watching sporting events, doing their own pleasure on the Lord's holy day. It is evident that Christians should spend their sabbaths pursuing the things of Yahweh their God, which have also already been described in this chapter: making sacrifice of themselves in order to build up their brethren, in that manner they help to build up the Kingdom of God, as the natural result of their behavior. So fasting and sabbaths are not for self-justification, but for self-sacrifice: the preservation of the Body of Christ.
With this background from Isaiah, we shall commence with our presentation of Philippians chapter 2:
1 If then there is any encouragement among the Anointed, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affections [only literally “bowels”] and compassions, 2 you would fulfill my joy: that you would be like-minded, having the same love, in unity having one [א, A, C, and I have “the same”; the text follows P46, B, D, and the MT] understanding, 3 nothing according to contention, nothing according to empty pride [P46, D and the MT have “to contention or empty pride”; the text follows א, A, B, and C], but with humility esteeming one another above yourselves. 4 Each not considering the things of yourselves, but each also the things of each of the others.
Reading Isaiah Chapter 58, it is evident that fasts and sabbaths were acceptable to Yahweh when the Israelites doing or keeping such things had actually passed them by caring for and looking after their brethren. Here Paul tells his Christian readers that if there were any love, affection and compassion among them, that they would be like-minded, having unity, and caring not merely for themselves, but for one another. Paul's message is consistent with that of Yahweh as it was spoken through Isaiah. Where Paul says “nothing according to empty pride”, we saw in Isaiah chapter 58 that Yahweh had no care for fasts of self-righteousness. Such fasting and sabbath-keeping often lead to contention, as men who practice such things to establish their own righteous often do so to boast and vaunt themselves above their brethren. For that reason Christ had warned that when one fasts, one should not let it be known. So asceticism by itself is not pleasing to God. But self-sacrifice so that one may build up one's brethren, that is pleasing to God. If we choose to do without, we should make such a choice so that we have something to give to those who are in greater need.
In other words, if a man chooses to do without something, and doing without saves him some money, and then he invests the saved money in stocks so as to have even more at some time in the future, he has only done without for his own benefit. Now, there is no condemnation for that, but there is also no advantage in it with God. Doing without for oneself is fine, it is a matter of personal choice, but it does not justify a man with God. There are many things we may do without, and fasting is only an example. Some people fast for health reasons, and we are not referring to them. But Medieval Christian monks and people down to modern times fast for religious reasons, imagining themselves to be closer to God because of their fasts. In truth, the fruit of such fasting is only empty pride.
But if one purposely does without something and uses the savings as an opportunity to give to the poor of his brethren, that is a good reason to do without. That is what the Word of God is encouraging in Isaiah chapter 58, and the same principle works with the use of the sabbath, as we have seen in the closing verses of that chapter. Fasting, or doing without, for that reason certainly does please Yahweh. Likewise, if one pursues his own entertainment on the sabbath, or his own pleasure, then that sabbath is not truly acceptable to Yahweh. But if Christians spend their sabbaths in pursuit of helping their brethren, by doing that they may please their God. Here Paul advises his readers to esteem one another in humility. If one boasts in fasting and sabbath-keeping he serves himself. However seeking to serve one's brethren above himself is a form of true Christian humility, because it is what Yahweh God expects of his people.
5 You must understand that this is in you which is also in Christ Yahshua, 6 who being in the form of Yahweh, regarded it not robbery, that to be equal to Yahweh 7 yet He made Himself of no account, taking a bondman’s form, coming in the likeness of men [P46 has “man”].
Where Paul says “this is in you”, he refers to the inherent care which the children of Israel should have for their brethren. As Christ sacrificed His life on their behalf, they should sacrifice their own lives on behalf of one another, by serving one another rather than fulfilling their own desires.
The translation of the King James Version has confounded the meaning of this passage. Paul is not saying that Yahshua Christ “”thought it not robbery to be equal to God”. Rather, Paul is saying that Yahshua Christ, being equal to God, thought it not robbery to bring Himself down to the level of a servant among men. Therefore, since Yahshua, being God, could lower Himself to be the servant to men, Christians should also be willing to do that same thing. It was not robbery for Christ to do such a thing, and therefore men should be willing to follow His example.
Paul is explaining an ideal expressed by Christ in the Gospel. When Christ had perceived that the apostles had argued amongst themselves, as to who would be the greater, we read in Mark chapter 9: “35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” Likewise we read in Matthew chapter 20: “25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister [or servant]; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant [or slave]: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” And thusly Paul speaks here:
And in figure being found as a man, 8 He humbled Himself, being obedient even to death, and the death of the cross.
Christ, being God manifest in the flesh, had indeed humbled Himself, and if Christians are to please Him, they are also to humble themselves by serving their fellow Christians. This is exactly what Christ had also taught, as He also said, as it is recorded in Luke chapter 9, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Sacrificing our lives for our brethren does not necessarily mean dying for them, but rather, taking up our cross daily, it means living for them. So Paul wrote here in verse 4 that Christians should not consider the things of themselves, but each should consider the things of each of the others. Self-denial is beneficial when the self-denial is for the sake of one's brethren.
At the end of Isaiah chapter 58, we saw the Word of God promise that if one would use his fasts and his sabbaths for the satisfaction of his brethren, in order to edify those of his own flesh, then Yahweh “shall guide [him] continually, and satisfy [his] soul in drought, and make fat [his] bones: and [he] shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And of [him] shall build the old waste places: [he] shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and [he] shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” Christ had actually done this, sacrificing His life for His people, and therefore Paul says of Him here:
9 On which account Yahweh also exalted Him highly and granted to Him that name which is above every name, 10 that in the name of Yahshua every knee would bow, of those in heavenly places and of those upon the earth and of those beneath the earth, 11 and every tongue would fully acknowledge that Yahshua Christ is Prince, in honor of Yahweh the Father.
So Yahshua Christ, having done without all for the edification of His brethren, and having spent His sabbaths in service to them, ultimately giving His life on their behalf, He is the “Repairer of the breach” and the “Restorer of paths to dwell in”. That is the ultimate example for Christians, who can share in that blessing, but only if they follow in His footsteps.
The breach is the separation between God and man, that which divides Yahweh from the children of Israel. This is evident in Psalm 106: “19 They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image. 20 Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass. 21 They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt; 22 Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea. 23 Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.” And again, from Isaiah chapter 30 where the Word of Yahweh says: “13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.”
There may be other benefits to asceticism, for which men may choose to abstain from one thing or another at diverse times. But asceticism, the abstention from worldly pleasures, does not by itself restore us to God. However doing without for the sake of serving our brethren, that restores us to God. This is what Christ meant when He said “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” We do not fast and keep sabbaths for the sake of Christ, unless we employ our fasts and sabbath-keeping for the betterment of our brethren. [We shall discuss asceticism itself again at greater length when we present chapter 2 of the epistle to the Colossians here, Yahweh willing, in the weeks to come.]
12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not while in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, with fear and trembling you achieve your own deliverance.
The Greek word σωτηρία (Strong's # 4991) can mean safety, salvation, deliverance, or preservation, among other things. Perhaps preservation may have been a better rendering here in this context. In the New Testament, σωτηρία can mean one or another of these in reference to one's present worldly life, or in reference to the salvation of the spirit and eternal life, depending upon the context of the passage in which the word appears.
The scriptures ensure that “all Israel shall be saved” in respect to the salvation of the Adamic spirit, as Paul describes elsewhere, such in Romans chapter 5 and 1 Corinthians chapter 15, and Paul distinguishes between the preservation or destruction of the body as being distinct from the salvation or preservation of the spirit in several places, for example in 1 Corinthians chapter 5.
Later in this very epistle, in Philippians chapter 3, Paul had written that “20 Of us the government in the heavens exists, from which also we are anxiously expecting a savior: Prince Yahshua Christ, 21 who will change the form of our body of humiliation, conformed to the body of His honor, in accordance with the operation of which He is able even to subject all things to Himself.” There Paul is writing of the promise of the resurrection of the body for the age to come, and not for the endurance of the body in the present world age. Therefore here in this passage, where Paul is referring to one achieving one's own deliverance, or preservation, he is speaking of the body of the flesh in the present time, and of the Christian community in this present age.
Eternal life comes by the design and will of God, and in that respect man cannot save himself, and man has no need to save himself. But concerning preservation in this world, Christians achieve their own deliverance through obedience to Christ. However, as Paul is about to state, the ability by which to have that obedience is also by the mercy and choosing of God:
13 For it is Yahweh who is operating in you, both to desire and to work for that approval.
It is evident in the first chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans, describing certain sinners, that Paul had taught that Yahweh had given certain sinners up to their own lusts as a punishment for their having rejected Him. He explains that “God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves...” because they had “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator...”
But just as we see concerning evil, that God gives men up to sin for their punishment, we may also see concerning good, that God establishes men for their preservation, as Paul writes in his second epistle to the Thessalonians: “2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work….” and then “3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. 5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”
We see this concept expressed in the law as well, in Deuteronomy chapter 30, where the children of Israel are told that if, in their punishment, they “shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice” that “the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”
So men achieve their own preservation by desiring to do good and seeking God in spite of their sin, and perhaps the Spirit of Christ will strengthen them so that they may be kept from evil. But when men turn to sin and reject their God, they find agreement with and pleasure in their own lustful desires, and perhaps God gives them up to those lusts as punishment for their having rejected Him. When men do well, Yahweh gets the credit, and when men sin, men are given the blame because they reject their God and agree with their sin. Therefore Paul warns his readers:
14 Do all things apart from murmuring and disputing, 15 that you would be perfect and with unmixed blood, blameless children of Yahweh in the midst of a race crooked and perverted - among whom you appear as luminaries in the Society, 16 upholding the Word of Life for a boast with me in the day of Christ, that not in vain have I run nor in vain have I labored.
If the nations fail to turn to obedience in Christ, then Paul sees his own mission as having been conducted in vain. This is the “obedience to the faith” that Paul mentioned in Romans chapters 1, 5, 6 and 16, which he describes in Romans chapter 6 as a keeping of the commandments of the law in the departure from sin. If the children of Israel keep the commandments of Yahweh their God, and if they take care for one another, they are promised preservation. If the children of Israel turn to sin instead, and to their own desires, they are assured destruction at the hands of their enemies as well as in their own perversions. Thusly we pray that our God “deliver us from evil.”
We read among the consequences of disobedience in Deuteronomy chapter 28, that “32 Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand.” This is found among many other curses foreboding the destruction of land, wealth and nation. But on the other hand, there is a prophecy in Daniel chapter 7, which promises that the Kingdom of God shall not be given over to another people in spite of the dreadful beasts which would bear rule over all the earth. And there are further promises, such as those in Jeremiah chapter 31 related to the making of the New Covenant, that the children of Israel and Judah (not Jews) shall always be a nation, meaning a distinct people. So according to these and other similar prophecies, Paul certainly would have been confident, that a remnant of Israel shall be preserved. Paul had written of the Israelites of old, in chapter 11 of his epistle to the Hebrews, that they “33 ... through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, [and] turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” But we can only assume that Paul had read and understood the prophetic literature which attests that the children of Israel, in the last days, would again be encompassed and besieged by aliens, as we may read in Ezekiel chapter 38, or in Daniel chapters 7 and 8 or Obadiah or elsewhere in the prophets, in prophecies that could not have been fulfilled before Paul's own time. The Revelation of Christ recorded by John, written after Paul's death, certainly upholds our interpretation of these prophecies, that they were not fulfilled by Paul's own time, because it parallels them in many ways.
Here our translation of these verses differs significantly from that which is found in all other English translations of the Bible. For that, we shall not apologize, but we shall offer an explanation:
In order to make a reasonably honest translation, each word of the source language must be considered in its own immediate context, as well as the general context of the passage being translated. Here we shall consider two simple sentences as examples, and we shall consider the immediate context of one particular word as it appears in each sentence.
Our first example: “The event officials had assembled the victorious runners of every race, from Africa, South America, Asia and Europe.” In this sentence, the word race would refer to the genetic character of each runner, as it is explained that the various runners come from diverse places where different races of people are generally found. And then our second example: “The event officials had assembled the victorious runners of every race, from the sprinters all the way up to the marathoners.” And in this sentence, the word race must refer to the particular athletic event which each runner had participated in, since the parameters provided in the subsequent clause describe those different events. In each of these sentences, the clause which follows the word race determines how the word race must be understood. Many such examples may easily be contrived in English.
Here we shall read verse 15 once again, and explain certain elements of our translation: “15 that you would be perfect and with unmixed blood, blameless children of Yahweh in the midst of a race crooked and perverted - among whom you appear as luminaries in the Society”.
The word for “blameless” here is from the Greek word ἄμωμος (Strong's # 299), and it is defined by Liddell & Scott to mean blameless or even without blemish. It consists of the negative particle α- (English un-) and the word μῶμος (Strong's # 3470, in the N.T. only at 2 Peter 2:13), which according to Liddell & Scott is blame, reproach, or disgrace. This first word is not really controversial, and in the King James Version it is rendered as without rebuke, but we define it for sake of comparison with the word which we translate as perfect.
The word for perfect here is from ἄμεμπτος (Strong's # 273), from the negative particle α- and the Greek adjective μεμπτός (of which the verb form μέμφομαι, Strong's # 3201, is found at Romans 9:19 and Hebrews 8:8) which is “to be blamed, blameworthy”, according to Liddell & Scott, where ἄμεμπτος is defined to mean “not to be blamed, blameless...[and,] of things, perfect in its kind....” We may have chosen to render this word as blameless, as the King James Version has it, where perhaps we may have changed the translation of ἄμωμος to without blemish, so as to keep its literal meaning while avoiding redundancy. Instead, we chose to translate ἄμεμπτος as perfect here, which we believe is better in the context of the rest of this clause.
The next word to consider is ἀκέραιος (Strong's # 185), which, according to Liddell & Scott, primarily means in reference to persons, “unmixed, pure in blood”. It is derived from the negative particle α- and the verb κεράννυμι, which is to mix or mingle. We chose to employ this radical definition of the term in our translation, as Liddell & Scott explain that it was used of people from the earliest times, because here in this passage it is set in contrast to the phrase γενεᾶς σκολιᾶς καὶ διεστραμμένης, which is literally translated here as “a race crooked and perverted”.
As we gave our own examples concerning the use of the word race, in similar sentences but having different contexts and therefore the word bears different meanings, so it is here. There are instances where the Greek word ἀκέραιος can be used to refer to something as pure or inviolate because it has no moral corruption. However here the context of Paul's writing sets the term ἀκέραιος in opposition to the phrase “a race crooked and perverted”, and therefore the opposite of that is a race uncrooked and unperverted, which is a race that is pure in blood, which is how the word ἀκέραιος was used of people.
If Paul had written “a society crooked and perverted”, we would have had to write unsoiled, rather than with unmixed blood, for ἀκέραιος. In that event, ἀκέραιος being set in opposition to a perverted society, we could imagine that Paul used the word of moral pollution. But since ἀκέραιος is set in opposition to the word γενεά, or race, it can only refer to racial pollution. If Paul had meant to say generation rather than race, the word γενεά does not lose its original meaning of race even when in context it must mean to refer to a generation – which is properly all the members of a single race existing at a given time – and the words “in the Society”, or cosmos, which Paul adds at the end of the clause become redundant and meaningless.
As a digression, let us briefly discuss this word generation. The Free Dictionary online gives three primary definitions for this word, and we shall omit one which has to do only with time. There are five others which are related to the sciences, and we shall omit those as well. The first definition of the word which they list is “The people born and living about the same time, considered as a group.” This is what we would call the popular culture definition of the word, but it is not how the word was used in antiquity. When in Deuteronomy chapter 32 Yahweh said of the children of Israel “They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation”, He was not speaking about the Canaanites who were alive at that same time, but rather He was speaking only about the Israelites. There are many other examples in Scripture, where the word generation was used to refer to only the people of one particular race living at any particular time. The Free Dictionary also recognizes this use, where it says a little further on: “All of the offspring that are at the same stage of descent from a common ancestor“, and this is the way that the word generation was used in Scripture and in antiquity.
We would assert that it is both morally and intellectually dishonest to gloss over or ignore the message of racial purity which Paul relates here in his use of ἄμωμος, ἄμεμπτος and ἀκέραιος where they are contrasted to the word γενεά, which literally means race, stock or family.
AS A DIGRESSIONS The Hebrew word tamim (Strong's # 8549) meant complete or sound and was translated in the King James Version as without blemish where it was used in the Old Testament to describe an animal perfect in its physical form, which was required by Yahweh in the law for an appropriate sacrifice. In such contexts this word tamim was usually translated with the Greek word ἄμωμος in the Septuagint. But the word is also translated as perfect in Genesis chapter 6, where it says that Noah was “perfect in his generations”.
Likewise Peter had informed his readers, in the second chapter of his first epistle where he also revealed that he was addressing the descendants of the ancient children of Israel: “But you are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, so that you should proclaim the virtues for which from out of darkness you have been called into the wonder of His light.” For this same reason, the same apostle Peter, as well as the apostle Jude in his single epistle, calls those of other races who have come in among the Israelites spots and blemishes in the Christian feasts of charity.
The entreaty to “do all things” seen in verse 14 is a reference not only to the basic commandments, but also to those things which Paul had already discussed here, where he had admonished his readers “that you would be like-minded, having the same love, in unity having one understanding, 3 nothing according to contention, nothing according to empty pride, but with humility esteeming one another above yourselves. 4 Each not considering the things of yourselves, but each also the things of each of the others.” So here he tells them to “do all things apart from murmuring and disputing”. This is in the Spirit which we have seen in our discussion of Isaiah chapter 58, as well as in the commandment of Christ recorded in John chapter 15 where we read: “10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” So Paul's admonition does not add to the commandments of Christ, but rather only clarifies those commandments.
Doing all things readily, keeping the commandments of Christ without murmuring and disputing, we love one another and look after one another, and fulfilling one another's needs we too may become repairers of the breach and restorers of paths to dwell in, following in the footsteps of Christ.
14 Do all things apart from murmuring and disputing, 15 that you would be perfect and with unmixed blood, blameless children of Yahweh in the midst of a race crooked and perverted - among whom you appear as luminaries in the Society, 16 upholding the Word of Life for a boast with me in the day of Christ, that not in vain have I run nor in vain have I labored.
White faces in a sea of darkness certainly do appear as luminaries in the cosmos. The phrase εἰς ἡμέραν χριστοῦ is “in the day of Christ”, which is certainly that same “day of the Lord” frequently mentioned in the Old Testament. As we have often discussed, Paul had taught that this day was imminent, because Christ had taught that his disciples should always act as if it were imminent. Many Identity Christians think that it is the Christian responsibility to take the Kingdom of God by force and take the initiative upon themselves to depose the beasts and the world governments. However this is not the teaching of Christ or the apostles. Here as well, Paul is presaging the exact opposite, as if he certainly knew what the future would bring upon Christians. Doing all things Christians are obligated to do, it is still inevitable that Christians shall be a minority in the world in the Day of Christ, as Paul has informed us here, just like the stars in the night sky are small points of light in a vast sea of darkness.
As Paul quoted in Romans chapter 12, and as Yahweh Himself said in Deuteronomy chapter 32, that: “vengeance is Mine! I will requite, says Yahweh.” Paul spoke similarly of the Day of Christ in 1 Corinthians chapter 1: “4 I thank my God at all times concerning you, in reference to the favor of Yahweh that is being given to you among the number of Christ Yahshua, 5 seeing that in all you have been enriched in Him, in all thought and all knowledge, 6 just as the proof of the Anointed has been confirmed in you, 7 consequently you are not to be wanting in even one favor, anxiously expecting the revelation of our Prince, Yahshua Christ, 8 who will also secure you until fulfillment, void of offense in the day of our Prince, Yahshua Christ.” Before His ascension, the apostles had asked of Him, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 1: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” And He only responded that “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” As we read in Isaiah chapter 64: “4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.”
The apostle Peter taught much the same thing which Paul is admonishing here, but with far greater brevity, where he wrote in 1 Peter chapter 4: “7 But the consummation of all things has approached. Therefore be discreet and sober in prayers, 8 before all things having zealous love for one another, because 'love covers a multitude of errors'. 9 Be hospitable to one another without murmuring. 10 Each just as he has received a gift for themselves, administering that same thing as good stewards of the manifold favor of Yahweh.” Earlier in that same epistle, in chapter 1, he had written of those who accept the Gospel of Christ: “22 Your souls having been purified in the obedience of the truth for brotherly love without hypocrisy, from of a pure heart you should love one another earnestly, 23 being engendered from above not from corruptible parentage, but from incorruptible, by the Word of Yahweh who lives and abides…” Being engendered of incorruptible parentage by the Word of God, one must be an Adamic man born according to the Kind after Kind law of God. Then can one be “perfect and with unmixed blood”.
Paul's final concerns become more immediate:
17 But if I also am offered upon the sacrifice and administration of your faith, I rejoice, and rejoice with you all. 18 And in that same thing you also rejoice, and rejoice with me.
As we had explained presenting chapter 1 of this epistle, Paul had already offered a defense of his Christian faith before Caesar Nero, and he seems to have expected to do so again. But while he had expressed confidence that he would live, he also held out the possibility that he would be executed for the faith, a possibility which he raises again here. Paul had already written along these lines in 2 Timothy, the letter which he had sent asking Timothy to come to him in Rome, which was written some time before this epistle since now writing this Timothy is with him. There in 2 Timothy chapter 4 Paul had said “6 For I am already offered and the time of my departure approaches”, so he had already been anticipating the possibility of his execution by Nero for some time. Here Paul portrays the possibility of his execution as an offering to God on behalf of the administration of the Gospel, and for that reason the Philippians should rejoice along with him. As we had seen in Philippians chapter 1, Paul was confident that being executed, he would live in the presence of Christ.
19 Now I have hope in Prince Yahshua, to send Timotheos to you soon, that I also would be of good spirits, knowing the things concerning you. 20 For I have no one else of equal spirit who will genuinely care for the things concerning you.
The word which the King James and other versions translate as likeminded is literally of equal spirit.
Timothy was evidently Paul’s most capable and most faithful colleague. Although in some of his other epistles Paul credits Sosthenes or Silas as co-authors, especially in earlier epistles, Timothy was given such credit quite frequently, whenever they were together. But Luke must be with Paul at this time, as Luke is mentioned in the epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, which were both written around this same time. However it is evident that, for whatever reason, Luke is not placed into the same class as Timothy or the other apostles by Paul. Luke is not discounted, but it is apparent that he has a different function, a different calling. Writing 2 Timothy a little earlier than this epistle, in 2 Timothy chapter 4 Paul had said that Luke was with him, but then he said that at his first defense no man stood by him. But neither can it be that Luke had deserted Paul at that time, so it must be that Paul distinguishes Luke, accounting his position as being somewhat distinct from the other apostles and fellow-workers, so he never considers him in quite the same way that he considers these others.
So here Paul hopes to send Timothy to Philippi soon, but not with this epistle in hand. Rather, Paul is informing the Philippians as they read this letter, which was evidently delivered by Epaphroditos, that he hoped to send Timothy some time after that point. Paul's words are also optimistic, that he himself would live to hear Timothy report back to him concerning the Philippians. Where Paul says that he has “no one else of equal spirit who will genuinely care for the things concerning you” he is actually commending Timothy to the Philippians, but the Philippians must have already been familiar with him, as the Book of Acts records that Timothy had been to Philippi in the past. Paul continues to talk about his fellow-workers, and the Philippians must have also been familiar with at least several of them:
21 They are all seeking after the things of themselves, not the things of Yahshua Christ.
And here Paul expresses the same disappointment with many of his fellow-workers which he had already detailed in his second epistle to Timothy. The context of this epistle compared with 2 Timothy further helps to establish that our interpretation of the chronology of the writing of these epistles is correct. So Paul continues to talk about Timothy:
22 But you know his tried character, that like a child to a father, with me he has slaved for the good message. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I look to the things concerning me.
We have asserted that Paul's initial salutations, where Timothy is named as co-author of many of these epistles which were written towards the end of Paul's ministry, meant that Paul was associating Timothy with him in his ministry, which itself was an indication that Timothy was considered the heir to Paul's ministry. This statement also has that same affect. The custom in Rome, of which the office of Caesar was exemplary, was for a man to adopt his designated heir as his son when the heir is not his natural son. Here Paul claims Timothy as his son in that same manner. Of course, Paul did not leave behind any formal organization for Timothy to take over as some CEO or pope, but Paul's readers would have recognized Paul's language and the faithful would have honored Timothy as Paul's successot in case of Paul's passing.
Where Paul had said “as soon as I look to the things concerning me”, he meant to refer to the completion of his trial before Nero and his defense of the faith, and the ultimate announcement of a verdict. The next verse once again reflects Paul's hope that the verdict will bring his release:
24 Though I am persuaded in the Prince that also I myself will come [א, A, C, and 0282 have “come to you”; the text follows P46, B, D, and the MT] soon.
We are quite certain, i8n spite of the hope reflected here, that Paul was indeed executed by Caesar Nero, probably, but not necessarily, no latter than the end of 62 AD, as Luke informs us in Acts chapter 28 that Paul was in Rome for two years after his arrival there. This is in spite of the presumptions of the 4th century Christian writer Eusebius, who wrongly interpreted certain things said by Peter and imagined that Paul was released from his bonds. There is no evidence in support of Eusebius in this regard, and much evidence which refutes him.
25 Now, I have deemed necessary to send to you Epaphroditos, my brother and colleague and fellow soldier, but your ambassador and administrator of my need,
Epaphroditos is only mentioned in this epistle, three times, both here and in chapter 4. He evidently brought to Paul in Rome an epistle from the Philippians, and he evidently brought this epistle back to Philippi from Paul. He seems to have been faithful to Paul, but was not of the same skill and spirit as Timothy.
26 since indeed he was longing after you all [א, A, C, D, and I have “...he was longing to see you all”; P46 “...he was longing to be sent to you”; the text follows B and the MT, which also vary slightly from each other], and very troubled because you heard that he was sick,
Of course, all that we know about Epaphroditos' illness is that which we are informed of here. But Paul calls him “your apostle”, and the Philippians are familiar with him, so he must have been their selected messenger to Paul in Rome. It may therefore be imagined that perhaps he fell ill upon arriving in Rome, and perhaps his return to Philippi was delayed for that reason. With this, it seems that there may have been an exchange of messages between Paul and the Philippians in addition to what had been brought to Paul by Epaphroditos, and this epistle which Epaphroditos brings back in return. Paul then makes a parenthetical remark concerning Epaphroditos:
27 (and he was sick approaching death, but Yahweh had mercy on him, and not him only - but me also, that I would not have grief upon grief),
Here it is evident that even the most important messengers of Christ can suffer illness, for whatever reasons only Yahweh God Himself may know, and therefore no man can consider himself to be above such trials in the flesh. Paul's “grief upon grief” would be the loss of Epaphroditos on top of the trial which he was already undergoing.
28 so more earnestly I have sent him, in order that seeing him again, you would rejoice, and I would even more be without grief.
We should all have such concern for our Christian brethren. The joy of the Philippians would result in joy for Paul as well.
29 Therefore accept him among the number of the Prince with all joy, and hold such a man in honor, 30 because on account of the work of the Anointed [C wants “of the Anointed”; א and A have instead “of the Prince”; D and the MT have the Article, where we may write “of the Christ”; the text follows P46 and B], he approached even as far as death, disregarding life, in order that he would supply your deficiency of administration for me.
Here Paul infers that the illness which Epaphroditos had suffered came as some result of the work which he had done for the ministry, that in some way he had actually risked his health for the benefit of the Philippians. And this too is an illustration of the theme which underlies Paul's intentions here in this chapter, and the corresponding Old Testament passage from Isaiah chapter 58 which we chose to present along with this chapter this evening: that the Christian should be willing to serve his brethren even to the point of death, being happy to forsake his own life for the sake of the people and Kingdom of God. Only through such self-sacrifice on behalf of our people can we also hope to be repairers of the breach between God and man, following in the footsteps of Christ.