Philippians 3:17-21; 4:1-3
Brethren, be followers of me, and observe them who walk so as you have our model. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping) that they are enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame; who mind earthly things. But our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory, according to the operation whereby also He is able to subdue all things unto Himself. Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved, and most desired, my joy and my crown: so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved: I beg of Evodia, and I beseech Syntyche to be of one mind in the Lord: and I entreat thee also, my sincere companion; help those women who have laboured with me in the Gospel, with Clement and the rest of my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Verse 17. Be followers of me, always in distrust of your own merits, and always eager to advance in perfection, as I am. It is a happy thing when a pastor can thus in all sincerity and simplicity address his flock. — He exhorts them to follow him in what he had taught them, and in the model of a good life, which he had set before them. He repeats to them, with tears, what he had formerly told them, that many walk and conduct themselves as enemies to the cross of Christ, to Christ crucified, by abandoning themselves to the pleasures of a sensual life, who glory in things they ought to be ashamed of. He hints at the disciples of Simon Magus, or of the Jewish doctors. Wi.
Verse 2. I beg of. S. Chrys. Theod. and many others, think that these were two ladies particularly famous in the Church at Philippi, for their virtue and good works. Some critics are of opinion that Syntyche was a man. It is certain, at least, that this name agrees amongst the Greeks better with a man than a woman; and perhaps the latter of these two may be the husband of Evodia.
Verse 3. I entreat thee, my sincere companion. S. Chrys. expounds it of his fellow labourer or fellow soldier, and says that some pretended that by it was meant S. Paul’s wife; but this he absolutely rejects, as do all the ancient interpreters, who teach us that S. Paul was never married, if we except the particular opinion of Clement of Alexandria, (l. 3. strom. p. 448. Edit. Heinsii) who at the same time tells us, that S. Paul and those ministers of the gospel who had wives, lived with them as if they had been their sisters. The pretended reformers, who bring this place to shew that bishops and priests may marry, will they be for living after this manner? See 1 Cor. vii. 7, 8. But even Calvin, Beza, and Dr. Hammond, expound this of some man that laboured with S. Paul. Wi. — It seems probable that S. Paul is here speaking to one of the persons mentioned in the preceding verse. Others think that he is speaking to the gaoler whom he had converted at Philippi. It seems most probable, however, that S. Paul is here speaking to the bishop of the Church, at Philippi. As to the opinion that he is speaking to his wife, we have elsewhere refuted that sentiment. Calmet. — S. Paul says of himself that he had no wife, (1 Cor. vii. 8.) and all the Greek Fathers are very positive on this point. — With Clement. S. Jerom, Estius, and some others, believe that this Clement was the fourth pope that governed the Church, after SS. Linus and Cletus: this at least is the common opinion. — Those women who have laboured with me in the gospel, not by preaching, but by assisting other ways to promote the gospel. Wi.