Paul's letter to the Philippians may aptly be seen as a meditation on joy. But Paul's joy, rather than the result of ease and comfort, is a contentedness made pure through suffering. He has 'learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want'. Ralph Martin shows how these themes flow from and emulate Christ's humility, lead to spiritual fellowship among believers, and contribute to spreading the gospel.
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“We may be freed from all fretful care and feverish anxiety because we may refer all our distresses and problems to God in prayer. Thus Bengel’s comment is so apt and true: anxiety and prayer (curare et orare) are more opposed to each other than fire and water.” (Page 175)
“Thanksgiving, eucharistia, is an important accompaniment of true prayer. The recalling of God’s goodness and mercy will save us from the many pitfalls which await the ungrateful soul, e.g. over-concern with our immediate problems, forgetfulness of God’s gracious dealings with us in the past, disregard of the needs of others who are less fortunate than we are.” (Page 176)
“In New Testament terms we can only know his peace as we first receive his grace in reconciliation (see note on 1:2).4 The peace of God follows directly from peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1) who made that peace by the blood of his cross (Col. 1:20).” (Page 176)
“I. H. Marshall gives a full description of its meaning as ‘fairmindedness, the attitude of a man who is charitable towards men’s faults and merciful in his judgment of their failings because he takes their whole situation into his reckoning’.2 Perhaps ‘graciousness’ is the best English equivalent; and, in the context here, it is to be the spirit of willingness to yield under trial which will show itself in a refusal to retaliate when attacked.” (Page 174)
“Bonnard finely comments: ‘The Pauline appeals to joy are never simply encouragements; they throw back the distressed churches on their Lord; they are, above all, appeals to faith.’” (Page 174)
Ralph P. Martin (1925–2013) served as scholar-in-residence at several schools, including Fuller Theological Seminary, Haggard School of Theology, and Azusa Pacific University. He was a professor emeritus of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary and an associate professor in biblical studies at the University of Sheffield in England.
Martin earned degrees at University of London and King’s College. He has written several commentaries and books, including Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, the commentaries on 2 Corinthians in the Word Biblical Commentary series, and many more!