Sunday, September 13, 2009

Philippians 4:15-23, God supplies our need

(Calvin in the woods)
This is the last page of Calvin's commentary to the Philippians (abridged)

Philippians 4:15- 23
15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 21 Greet all God's people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All the Lord's people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar's household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Calvin abridged: 15- “as you know”- Paul excuses the other churches’ dereliction of duty in not supporting him, by praising the Philippians. We must also learn from Paul’s pious example, that others should not see us inclined to receive from others and be thought insatiable. The liberality of some often escapes the notice of others. Paul administered the gospel to them, while there was an obligation upon them in return to support him (I Cor. 9:11). This was a common arrangement between Paul and the Churches.
18- “I have received full payment and have more than enough”- He says in more explicit terms that he has what he needs, and he honors their liberality saying he has been filled. It was undoubtedly a moderate sum that they had sent, but it filled him to satiety. “acceptable sacrifice pleasing to God”- Our acts of kindness are sacred offerings which God receives from our hands. Similarly Christ says whoever does this to the least of these has done it to me. When we love others this is not just a benefit for others, but a service to God (Heb. 13:16). The altars on which our sacrifices are to be presented are the poor and the servants of Christ. Some neglect these to squander their resources on every kind of luxury, upon what they eat, upon immodest attire or magnificent dwellings.
19- “My God shall supply”- Paul acknowledges that whatever kindness is shown to them is a gift from his God. He doesn’t just promise a reward in the future, but God’s supply of necessities in this life. 20- “To our God and Father…”- The aid the Philippians were able to give him came from the mercy of God. 22- “All the Lord’s people send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. The household of Nero was reached by uncommon mercy- for this was the sink of all crimes and iniquities.

Thoughts: “My God shall supply all your need.” This is a great thought to end this epistle with- God cares for us, and supplies us with just the right amount. Note it doesn’t say God provides our luxuries. It is a touchy thing for a minister to talk about their providing for him, when he is still in obvious need. This is not the health and wealth gospel. Jesus didn’t talk about stock market supplies- but daily bread. Yet it is also important that we see that God supplied through the gifts and generosity of the Church. God works through the Church.

Prayer: God, thank you that you care for us and supply our need when we do not deserve it.

No comments:

Post a Comment