A cheerpul and even joyous spirit breathes through this Epistle. Yet the Apostle was a prisoner in Rome. He is happy in the midst of the most sorrowful circumstances.
I. The sorrow of his imprisonment is tempered by his thought of God.—‘I thank my God.’ He recognises God as his God. He knows in the clearest manner that God has led him by this path. He knows that the Lord has redeemed him, and that nothing can separate him from the love of God in Christ. The Lord is my God, and what need I more? It was when David was a fugitive king, ‘in a dry and weary land without water,’ that he made the claim, ‘O God, thou art my God’ (Psalms 63.). As it was with St. Paul and the kingly David, so may it be with us. ‘Whom have I in heaven but Thee!’
II. The sorrow of his separation from the Philippians is lightened by thought of their welfare.
(a) He remembered them in his thanksgivings. For their fellowship with each other in the Gospel. There had been, and there was (unlike the Corinthian Church) entire accord and harmony amongst them. How desirable in a Church! He had confidence in its continuance. The good work of harmonious fellowship is wrought to completion by Christ. And this confidence rested upon the fact that they were partakers of the like grace with himself.
(b) He remembered them in his supplications. That their mutual affection might increase. That their knowledge of truth might increase. That their spiritual perceptions might increase. That they might be preserved pure and without offence to the day of Christ. That they might be filled with the fruits of righteousness. Looking to God he felt thankful; thinking on what God had wrought by him, and praying for its perfection, he was happy. A minister of God is joyful in his work if such are his thoughts, thanksgivings, and prayers.