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If there is therefore any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassion. (Philippians 2:1)
Paul begins this next passage with his phrase “therefore,” which will cause one to stop and ask what is the, therefore, there for. It is generally a transition that ties the following statements to a previous thought or statement that Paul has made. In this case, we can take it back to what he was saying in verse 27 of Chapter One. In that passage, Paul said, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…” In the opening of this chapter, he goes on to explain how they can fulfill this statement.
The four “if” statements in verse one form the basis of Paul’s appeal to imitate the Christ’s example of humility. These statements are not conditional in their meaning, and Paul often uses the word “if” as an argument rather than a condition. He is a logical thinker, and thus presents his arguments in the form of logic. These phrases express conditions that are assumed for the sake of argument, and both Paul and his readers will be inclined to believe the truth of these conditions.
Paul uses four Christian duties to make his point. He starts with “encouragement.” The Greek word used here is (παράκλησις paraklēsis) and literally can be translated “called alongside of.” The word speaks of an advocate – one who is standing with us. Here Paul speaks of this as being in Christ. He reminds the Philippian believers that their strength and comfort are available to them in Christ. Christ is the source of our comfort and strength. Christ is the encouragement and strength to provide the unity that Paul spoke of in 1:27.
Paul then goes on to stress the incentive for the goal of unity. This incentive is love (ἀγάπη agapē). Paul is building upon his concern for them to be “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel….” In this type of context, love to Paul is the tendency to relate to another for that person’s good – often regardless of the cost to oneself. The strength comes from Christ, the encouragement is love, and the joint participation comes from the Spirit.
The word used by Paul for fellowship is the Greek word koinonia, and is from the base of koinos, which means common. He is stressing the shared Christian life that he and the believers at Philippi held. In some of the general writings of the day, they would speak about those who were of one village and drank from the same fountain. We are challenged to consider how much more our shared position as Christians is as we drink of the same Holy Spirit.
The strength to fulfill Paul’s desire and command in 1:27 comes from Christ, and the encouragement to do this is love, the joint participation in this comes by the Holy Spirit. Finally, the response of tender mercies and compassions comes from the seat of their affections.
Paul is still logically arguing why they are to fulfill his request in 1:27. They will be functioning in “one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…” because of the tender mercies and compassions they held for each other and for Paul.
The first and third admonitions give the objective sources of the Christian life – Christ and the Spirit. The second and fourth give the subjective principles in the believer – love, and compassion for one another. Paul has given a four-fold argument to help the Philippian believers bring joy to Paul because of the church’s unity.
More in-depth Insights
If there is therefore any encouragement in Christ. Here Paul in 2:1 Paul is looking to motivate the Philippians to have what he goes on to say in 1:2, being concerned with the same things, having the same love, united in soul, of one mind, which would make Paul’s joy complete. Paul sat in this moment of persecution, suffering in his trial, so for him to learn that the congregation in Philippi acting like true Christians, as they too are persecuted and suffering. And, in these conditions, Paul prayed that the most tremendous encouragement might be pursued by all who are loving, gentle, and holy in the Christian congregation. He implored them to live so as not to bring dishonor on the gospel. He needed them all to live a Christian life that would result in the greatest encouragement that one can receive, which only comes from Christ alone. One should not question whether there was any encouragement in Christ, as Paul simply wording this to urge them to live a genuine Christian life. Paul considered Christ as the source of all encouragement, and he intently prayed that those in Philippi might so live to have the same love, unity in person, being of one mind, making themselves one with the mind of Christ.
If any consolation of love. They needed to understand that all comfort, relief, consolation involves love. We live a life of comfort, consolation with our family, neighbors, co-workers, spiritual brothers and sisters, even unbelievers when genuine love is there. It is only by loving these ones that Christians are going to find true happiness. We are not obligated to love the wicked any more than God does, but we have Christian love that would move us to evangelize to them if the circumstances to do so presented itself. We can hate the evil that takes place, we can even hate those knowingly carrying it out, as God hates the evildoers as well. God knows the mind and heart of these ones, as he knows in the future, which ones will repent of their ways. We do not, and so we remember the evildoer on the cross who showed a degree of faith in Jesus, being crucified alongside him, who was then given the promise of being in Paradise. (Lu 23:39-43) Thus, while we might hate the evildoer and the evil that he does, if ever he shows even the slightest interest, our love would move us to proclaim the Word of God to him. Hatred outside of the evildoer and wicked for mundane things is a passion filled with misery; love, on the other hand, is an emotion filled with joy.
If any fellowship of the Spirit. The Greek word (κοινωνία koinōnia) rendered fellowship means close mutual association (1Jn 1:3; 1Co 1:9); share, participation (2Co 8:4) in an intimate association or group. The sense refers to the fellowship, share, participation among the Christians in the influence, guidance, and direction of the Holy Spirit, enabling them to be one, united to the same degree the biblical worldview that Jesus Christ had.
If any tender mercies and compassion. Literally, If any bowels and any compassion (οἰκτιρμός oiktirmos). Intestines or internal organs: The Hebrew word (קֶרֶב qereb) is used to describe the “inner parts,” “inward parts,” or “intestines” of men and animals. (Ex 12:9; 29:13; Ps 5:9) It denotes that which is “inside,” that is, the source of a person’s thoughts (mind), volition, emotions, and knowledge of right from wrong (conscience) rendered at times as the heart. It can refer to the psychological faculties of the inner person. Another term that refers to the internal organs is the Hebrew word (מֵעֶה meeh), which is always used in the plural. It is used for the “intestines.” The Greek word (σπλάγχνον splagchnon) rendered “tender mercies,” “compassion,” “affection” also literally means bowels (intestines). (Ac 1:18; Col 3:12; Lk 1:78; 2Co 7:15; Php 1:8; 2:1; Lk 1:78; 2Co 7:15; Php 1:8; 2:1; Phm 7, 12, 20) Both the Hebrew and the Greek refer to the inner part of a person as a place of feeling and compassion. Because of the clear link between emotions, feelings, and the internal organs, the intestines, were regarded as the seat of the deepest emotions.
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 Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments – Volume 3, Vol. 3 (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 2008). Page 428.
 Clifton J. Allen, ed., The Broadman Bible Commentary, ed. Clifton J. Allen, Vol. 11 (Nashville, Tenn: Broadman Press, 1971). Page 194
 W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 233
 Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments – Volume 3, Vol. 3 (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 2008). Page 428
 Greek word used here is splanchnon, which is literally “bowels” – from which the Greeks of that day thought was the seat of affections. It is used in the plural sense and means tender mercies in this location.
 A deep awareness of and sympathy for another’s suffering: mercy, compassion. – Ro 12:1; 2Co 1:3; Php 2:1; Col 3:12; Heb 10:28.