John Calvin Complete Commentary - Philippians 1:28 - 1:28

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - Philippians 1:28 - 1:28

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28And in nothing terrified. The second thing which he recommends to the Philippians is fortitude of mind, (84) that they may not be thrown into confusion by the rage of their adversaries. At that time the most cruel persecutions raged almost everywhere, because Satan strove with all his might to impede the commencement of the gospel, and was the more enraged in proportion as Christ put forth powerfully the grace of his Spirit. He exhorts, therefore, the Philippians to stand forward undaunted, and not be thrown into alarm.

Which is to them a manifest proof. This is the proper meaning of the Greek word, and there was no consideration that made it necessary for others to render it cause. For the wicked, when they wage war against the Lord, do already by a trial-fight, as it were, give a token of their ruin, and the more fiercely they insult over the pious, the more do they prepare themselves for ruin. The Scripture, assuredly, nowhere teaches, that the afflictions which the saints endure from the wicked are the cause of their salvation, but Paul in another instance, too, speaks of them as a manifest token or proof, (2Th_1:5,) and instead of ἔνδειξιν, which we have here, he in that passage makes use of the term ἔνδειγμα (85) This, therefore, is a choice consolation, that when we are assailed and harassed by our enemies, we have an evidence of our salvation. (86) For persecutions are in a manner seals of adoption to the children of God, if they endure them with fortitude and patience: the wicked give a token of their condemnation, because they stumble against a stone by which they shall be bruised to pieces. (Mat_21:44.)

And that from God. This is restricted to the last clause, that a taste of the grace of God may allay the bitterness of the cross. No one will naturally perceive the cross a token or evidence of salvation, for they are things that are contrary in appearance. Hence Paul calls the attention of the Philippians to another consideration — that God by his blessing turns into an occasion of welfare things that might otherwise seem to render us miserable. He proves it from this, that the endurance of the cross is the gift of God. Now it is certain, that all the gifts of God are salutary to us. To you, says he,it is given, not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for him. Hence even the sufferings themselves are evidences of the grace of God; and, since it is so, you have from this source a token of salvation. Oh, if this persuasion were effectually inwrought in our minds — that persecutions (87) are to be reckoned among God’ benefits, what progress would be made in the doctrine of piety! (88) And yet, what is more certain, than that it is the highest honor that is conferred upon us by Divine grace, that we suffer for his name either reproach, or imprisonment, or miseries, or tortures, or even death, for in that case he adorns us with his marks of distinction. (89) But more will be found that will rather bid God retire with gifts of that nature, than embrace with alacrity the cross when it is presented to them. Alas, then, for our stupidity! (90)

(84) “La force et constance de courage;” —” and constancy of courage.”

(85) “Là où il vse d’ mot qui descend d’ mesme verbe que celuy dont il vse yci;” —” he makes use of a word which comes from the same verb as that which he employs here.”

(86) “Cela nous est vne demonstrance et tesmoignage de nostre salut;” —” is to us a clear proof and token of our salvation.”

(87) “Les afflictions et persecutions;” — “ and persecutions.”

(88) “Combien aurions — nous proufité en la doctrine de vraye religion;” —” much progress we would make in the doctrine of true religion.”

(89) “Il nous vest de sa liuree;” — “ arrays us in his livery.”

(90) “Maudite donc soit nostre stupidite;” — “ then, be our stupidity.”