Waxing confident - Finding the effect produced by the public defense which the apostle made, they were greatly encouraged, and the more boldly and openly proclaimed the doctrine of Christ crucified.
The word - The doctrine of Christ; several excellent MSS. and versions add, some Θεου, others Κυριου, the word of God, or the word of the Lord. This is a respectable reading, and is probably genuine.
And many of the brethren - Many Christians. It is evident from this, that there were already “many” in Rome who professed Christianity.
In the Lord - In the Lord Jesus; that is, united to him and to each other by a professed attachment to him. This is a common phrase to, designate Christians.
Waxing confident by my bonds - Becoming increasingly bold and zealous in consequence of my being confined. This might have been either:
(1)that from the very fact that so distinguished a champion of the truth had been imprisoned, they were excited to do all they could in the cause of the gospel. Or,
(2)they were aroused by the fact that the cause of his imprisonment had become generally understood, and that there was a strong current of popular favor setting toward Christianity in consequence of it. Or,
(3)they had had contact with Paul in his own “hired house,” and had been incited and encouraged by him to put forth great efforts in the cause. Or,
(4)it would seem that some had been emboldened to promulgate their views, and set themselves up as preachers, who would have been restrained if Paul had been at liberty.
They were disposed to form parties, and to secure followers, and rejoiced in an opportunity to increase their own popularity, and were not unwilling thus to diminish the popularity and lessen the influence of so great a man as Paul. Had he been at liberty, they would have had no prospect of success; see Phlippians 1:16. To this may be added a suggestion by Theodoret. “Many of the brethren have increased boldness - θάρσος tharsos- on account of my bonds. For seeing me bear such hard things with pleasure, they announce that the gospel (which sustains me) is divine.” The same sentiment occurs in Oecumen, and Theophylact; see Bloomfield. In Paul himself they had an illustration of the power of religion, and being convinced of its truth, they went and proclaimed it abroad.
To speak the word without fear - That is, they see that I remain safely (compare Acts 28:30), and that there is no danger of persecution, and, stimulated by my sufferings and patience, they go and make the gospel known.
Paul's letter to the Philippians, like the one to the Colossians, was written while he was a prisoner at Rome. The church at Philippi had sent gifts to Paul by the hand of Epaphroditus, whom Paul calls “my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.” While in Rome, Epaphroditus was sick, “nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him,” Paul wrote, “and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.” Hearing of the sickness of Epaphroditus, the believers at Philippi were filled with anxiety regarding him, and he decided to return to them. “He longed after you all,” Paul wrote, “and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.... I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.” AA 479.1
By Epaphroditus, Paul sent the Philippian believers a letter, in which he thanked them for their gifts to him. Of all the churches, that of Philippi had been the most liberal in supplying Paul's wants. “Now ye Philippians know also,” the apostle said in his letter, “that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.” AA 479.2
“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all.... And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” AA 480.1Read in context »
The gospel has ever achieved its greatest success among the humbler classes. “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” 1 Corinthians 1:26. It could not be expected that Paul, a poor and friendless prisoner, would be able to gain the attention of the wealthy and titled classes of Roman citizens. To them vice presented all its glittering allurements and held them willing captives. But from among the toilworn, want-stricken victims of their oppression, even from among the poor slaves, many gladly listened to the words of Paul and in the faith of Christ found a hope and peace that cheered them under the hardships of their lot. AA 461.1
Yet while the apostle's work began with the humble and the lowly, its influence extended until it reached the very palace of the emperor. AA 461.2Read in context »
“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all.... And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” AA 480.1
The grace of God sustained Paul in his imprisonment, enabling him to rejoice in tribulation. With faith and assurance he wrote to his Philippian brethren that his imprisonment had resulted in the furtherance of the gospel. “I would ye should understand, brethren,” he declared, “that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds with Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” AA 480.2
There is a lesson for us in this experience of Paul's, for it reveals God's way of working. The Lord can bring victory out of that which may seem to us discomfiture and defeat. We are in danger of forgetting God, of looking at the things which are seen, instead of beholding by the eye of faith the things which are unseen. When misfortune or calamity comes, we are ready to charge God with neglect or cruelty. If He sees fit to cut off our usefulness in some line, we mourn, not stopping to think that thus God may be working for our good. We need to learn that chastisement is a part of His great plan and that under the rod of affliction the Christian may sometimes do more for the Master than when engaged in active service. AA 481.1Read in context »