Commentary on Philippians, 4:14-23 (Giving and Receiving)

Philippians 4:14-23


13 I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.
14 Howbeit ye did well that ye had fellowship with my affliction.
15 And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving but ye only;
16 for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need. 17 Not that I seek for the gift; but I seek for the fruit that increaseth to your account.
18 But I have all things, and abound: I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things that came from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.
19 And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
20 Now unto our God and Father be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren that are with me salute you.
22 All the saints salute you, especially they that are of Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  (ASV)


14 Howbeit ye did well that ye had fellowship with my affliction.


Although Paul had learned to be content in all of his circumstances, through the strength that Jesus provides, he commended the Philippian church for sending him financial aid to help meet his needs. In verse 17 he says:


17 Not that I seek for the gift; but I seek for the fruit that increaseth to your account.


Even though Paul had needs, and was thankful for the aid they provided, he was more focused on the fact that their giving would result in spiritual reward for them. God blesses and rewards those who give to others, whether it be to the poor, or to God’s servants who are in full time ministry. In this regard, having our needs met depends directly on our faithfulness in meeting the needs of others, as Paul indicates in verse 19:


19 And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.


I think Christians read this verse out of context and automatically claim it for God’s provision.We can indeed rely upon the Lord for His provision, but this promise here is conditional. In context, it’s clear that we must be faithful to provide for the needs of others when it’s in our power to do so. When God brings opportunities our way to give to others, and we close our ears to them, we cannot expect God to meet our own needs, as the following verses confirm:


“17 But whoso hath the world’s goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him?”  ASV (1 Jn 3:17)


“15 If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you say unto them, Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; and yet ye give them not the things needful to the body; what doth it profit?” ASV (Ja 2:14-16)


“7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” ASV (Matt 5:7)


24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. 25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” ESV (Prov 11:24-25)


“27 He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack; But he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.” ASV (Prov 28:27)


“17 Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.” ESV (Prov 19:17)


“10 for God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love which ye showed toward his name, in that ye ministered unto the saints, and still do minister.” ASV (He 6:10)


To give to the needs of others is Christ-like. Thus if we close our ears to the cries and needs of those whom God places in our life, we’re not being like-hearted with our Lord. When we give to the poor or to those in ministry, we give to the Lord.


If we’re self-centered and cry to the Lord to meet our needs, but refuse to help those who cry out to us (either literally or figuratively), we have no promise that God will hear us (Matt 18:21-35). When we extend mercy to others, God extends mercy to us.


However, with so many people in need, and so many ministries in need, we must be discerning regarding God’s will. We need to be in prayer about whom the Lord would have us support. With a willing heart, we must commit those opportunities to the Lord, being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.


15 And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving but ye only;
16 for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need.


“in the beginning of the gospel”


Paul is probably referring to when he first preached the gospel to them.


Apparently, during  that period of his ministry, the Church of Philippi was the only church who was providing support for Paul. Even while he was ministering in Thessalonica, they had sent him aid, not just once, but twice.


18 But I have all things, and abound: I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things that came from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.


The gift that the Philippians sent to Paul via Epaphroditus, fully met the needs he had at the time. This gift was “well-pleasing to God.” And because it was well-pleasing to God, He would also meet their needs, as we already discussed.


19 And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.


(See above for further discussion of this verse)


“his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”


God has an eternal well of riches to draw from to provide for our needs (especially our spiritual needs), and it’s only through His Son that those riches become available to us. Those of other religions are excluded from those riches.


20 Now unto our God and Father be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Everything we do in life, and how we live our life, is to glorify God. I recall reading an article about a man who addressed a class of seminary students, who asked them what our purpose in this world was as Christians. No one was able to give the answer he was looking for.


He correctly informed them that our ultimate purpose in life is to bring glory to God. As followers of Christ, our whole life is to point to Jesus, to be an accurate reflection of His character. We’ve been saved to serve the Lord, and to spread His message to a lost world.


Our lives are to be totally Christ-centered. We’re not in this world to live for the things of this world. We’re here to live holy lives, and to do the work of the Lord. We’re to be fully occupied with Christ and the purpose to which we’ve been called to.


Those who profess Christ, but don’t have Him as the object of their lives, are living a lie. True believers are followers. Faith follows the object of their faith.


21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren that are with me salute you.


There is a wonderful bond between Christians. We may be in a foreign country, and everyone is a stranger to us. But when we meet another Christian, there’s instantly a special sense of family with that person. Our common faith in Christ unites our hearts. Even when we’re out and about in our own town, whenever we run across another Christian, it’s always a welcome moment. It should be easy to greet any follower of Christ we meet throughout our day.


22 All the saints salute you, especially they that are of Caesar’s household.


All the Christians who with Paul at the time, sent their greetings to the Philippian church, especially those who were of the household of Caesar. According to Albert Barnes, this would have been Nero. It’s not known if Paul was referring to Nero’s relatives or to those who were employed by him. Perhaps both, but I’m inclined to believe it was Caesar’s servants that Paul was talking about.


Either way, I find it interesting that there were Christians serving right under Nero’s nose, who at one point persecuted Christians. This was probably before any of that occurred. Whether Caesar knew that he had Christians working for him, is unknown.


23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.


It’s only by God’s grace that we’re saved, and it’s only by God’s grace that we can live out His will for our lives. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is what we need to live every moment of every day for His glory. That can only be found daily in His glorious presence.