John Calvin Complete Commentary - Philippians 1:8 - 1:8

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - Philippians 1:8 - 1:8


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

8.For God is my witness. He now declares more explicitly his affection for them, and, with the view of giving proof of it, he makes use of an oath, and that on good grounds, because we know how dear in the sight of God is the edification of his Church. It was, too, more especially of advantage, that Paul’ affection should be thoroughly made known to the Philippians. For it tends in no small degree to secure credit for the doctrine, when the people are persuaded that they are beloved by the teacher. He calls God as a witness to the truth, inasmuch as he alone is the Truth, and as a witness of his affection, inasmuch as he alone is the searcher of hearts. In the word rendered long after, a particular term is made use of instead of a general, and it is a token of affection, inasmuch as we long after those things which are dear to us.

In the bowels He places the bowels of Christ in opposition to carnal affection, to intimate that his affection is holy and pious. For the man that loves according to the flesh has respect to his own advantage, and may from time to time change his mind according to the variety of circumstances and seasons. In the meantime he instructs us by what rule the affections of believers ought to be regulated, so that, renouncing their own will, they may allow Christ to sit at the helm. And, unquestionably, true love can flow from no other source than from the bowels of Christ, and this, like a goad, ought to affect us not a little — that Christ in a manner opens his bowels, that by them he may cherish mutual affection between us. (47)



(47) Beza, when commenting on the expression, in the bowels of Jesus Christ, observes, “Alibi solet dicere, In Christo. Ut autem significet ex quo fonte promanet affectus iste, et quo etiam feratur, additum visceribus nomen magnum pondus addit sententiæ ut intimus amor significetur. Solent enim Hebraei רחמים, rachamim, id est, viscera omnes teneros ac veluti maternos affectus vocare;” — “ is accustomed in other cases to say, In Christ. But to intimate from what fountain that affection flows, and in what direction also it tends, the addition of the term bowels adds great weight to the statement, so as to express intimate affection. For the Hebrews are accustomed to employ the term רחמים rachamim, that is, bowels, to denote all tender and as it were motherly affections.” — Ed.