Philippians 4:3
And I entreat you also, true yoke fellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life.
4:2-9 Let believers be of one mind, and ready to help each other. As the apostle had found the benefit of their assistance, he knew how comfortable it would be to his fellow-labourers to have the help of others. Let us seek to give assurance that our names are written in the book of life. Joy in God is of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it. It more than outweighs all causes for sorrow. Let their enemies perceive how moderate they were as to outward things, and how composedly they suffered loss and hardships. The day of judgment will soon arrive, with full redemption to believers, and destruction to ungodly men. There is a care of diligence which is our duty, and agrees with a wise forecast and due concern; but there is a care of fear and distrust, which is sin and folly, and only perplexes and distracts the mind. As a remedy against perplexing care, constant prayer is recommended. Not only stated times for prayer, but in every thing by prayer. We must join thanksgivings with prayers and supplications; not only seek supplies of good, but own the mercies we have received. God needs not to be told our wants or desires; he knows them better than we do; but he will have us show that we value the mercy, and feel our dependence on him. The peace of God, the comfortable sense of being reconciled to God, and having a part in his favour, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, are a greater good than can be fully expressed. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinning under troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm and with inward satisfaction. Believers are to get and to keep a good name; a name for good things with God and good men. We should walk in all the ways of virtue, and abide therein; then, whether our praise is of men or not, it will be of God. The apostle is for an example. His doctrine and life agreed together. The way to have the God of peace with us, is to keep close to our duty. All our privileges and salvation arise in the free mercy of God; yet the enjoyment of them depends on our sincere and holy conduct. These are works of God, pertaining to God, and to him only are they to be ascribed, and to no other, neither men, words, nor deeds.And I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow - It is not known to whom the apostle refers here. No name is mentioned, and conjecture is useless. All that is known is, that it was someone whom Paul regarded as associated with himself in labor, and one who was so prominent at Philippi that it would be understood who was referred to, without more particularly mentioning him. The presumption, therefore. is, that it was one of the ministers, or "bishops" (see the notes at Philippians 1:1) of Philippi, who had been particularly associated with Paul when he was there. The Epistle was addressed to the "church with the bishops and deacons" Philippians 1:1; and the fact that this one had been particularly associated with Paul, would serve to designate him with sufficient particularity. Whether he was related to the women referred to, is wholly unknown. Doddridge supposes that he might be the husband of one of these women; but of that there is no evidence. The term "yoke-fellow" - συζυγος suzugos - some have understood as a proper name (Syzygus); but the proper import of the word is yoke-fellow, and there is no reason to believe that it is used here to denote a proper name. If it had been, it is probable that some other word than that used here and rendered "true" - γνήσιος gnēsios - would have been employed. The word "true" - γνήσιος gnēsios - means that he was sincere, faithful, worthy of confidence. Paul had had evidence of his sincerity and fidelity; and he was a proper person, therefore, to whom to entrust a delicate and important business.

Help those women - The common opinion is, tidal the women here referred to were Euodias and Syntyche, and that the office which the friend of Paul was asked to perform was, to secure a reconciliation between them. There is, however, no certain evidence of this The reference seems rather to be to influential females who had rendered important assistance to Paul when he was there. The kind of "help" which was to be imparted was probably by counsel, and friendly cooperation in the duties which they were called to perform, There is no evidence that it refers to pecuniary aid; and, had it referred to a reconciliation of those who were at variance, it is probable that some other word would have been used than that rendered here as "help" - συλλαμβάνου sullambanou.

Which laboured with me in the gospel - As Paul did not permit women to preach (see 1 Timothy 2:12; compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 10:5), he must have referred here to some other services which they had rendered. There were deaconesses in the primitive churches (see the Romans 16:1 note; 1 Timothy 5:9., note), to whom was probably entrusted particularly the care of the female members of a church. In the custom which prevailed in the oriental world, of excluding females from the public gaze, and of confining them to their houses, it would not be practicable for the apostles to have access to them. The duties of instructing and exhorting them were then probably entrusted chiefly to pious females; and in this way important aid would be rendered in the gospel. Paul could regard such as "laboring with him," though they were not engaged in preaching.

With Clement also - That is, they were associated with Clement, and with the other fellow-laborers of Paul, in aiding him in the gospel. Clement as doubtless someone who was well known among them; and the apostle felt that, by associating them with him, as having been real helpers in the gospel, their claim to respectful attention would be better appreciated. Who Clement was, is unknown. Most of the ancients say it was Clement of Rome, one of the primitive fathers. But there is no evidence of this. The name Clement was common, and there is no improbability in supposing that there might have been a preacher of this name in the church at Philippi.

Whose names are in the book of life - see the notes at Isaiah 4:3. The phrase, "the book of life," which occurs here, and in Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 20:12, Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:19, is a Jewish phrase, and refers originally to a record or catalogue of names, as the roll of an army. It then means to be among the living, as the name of an individual would be erased from a catalog when he was deceased. The word "life" here refers to eternal life; and the whole phrase refers to those who were enrolled among the true friends of God, or who would certainly be saved. The use of this phrase here implies the belief of Paul that these persons were true Christians. Names that are written in the book of life will not be blotted out. If the hand of God records them there who can obliterate them?

And I entreat thee also, true yoke fellow,.... Not his wife, as some think (d), for he had none, as appears from 1 Corinthians 7:7, at the writing of which epistle he was at Ephesus, where he stayed some little time, and then went to Jerusalem; where he was quickly apprehended, and sent a prisoner to Rome, and where he now was as such; and therefore it is not likely that he should marry a wife within this compass of time, and much less that he should have one at Philippi; besides, the word used is of the masculine gender, and designs a man and not a woman: some think it is the proper name of a man, who was called "Syzygus", and so the Arabic interpreter seems to understand it; and by the apostle, true "Syzygus", signifying that as was his name, so was he, really and in truth, a companion and fellow labourer, that drew in the same yoke with him; the Syriac version renders it, "the son of my yoke", and the Ethiopic version, "my brother and my companion": some think this person was the husband or brother of one of the above women; and therefore is entreated to use his interest, and compose the difference between them, or endeavour to reconcile them to the church; and others that it was the jailer, that was converted by the apostle: but it seems most likely to have been one that was under the same yoke of the Gospel, and who had been employed with him in preaching of it, a fellow labourer; such an one as Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy, and might be one of those; or rather Epaphroditus, who was minister in this church, and by whom the apostle sent this letter, and whom he might address and importune in this manner; the word may very well be thought to answer to the Hebrew word often used in Jewish writings, for an associate, a colleague, and a disciple of the wise men, to which the apostle may allude; see Philippians 2:25,

help those women; Euodias and Syntyche. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions read "them", referring to the above women; and the Arabic version reads, "help both"; that is, both those women; not by relieving their temporal wants, which it does not appear they were in; but either by composing their differences, or by assisting them with good counsel and advice; and giving them proper instructions in the doctrines of the Gospel, that they might be brought to think the same things the church did: and the rather such pains should be taken with them, since they were such, says the apostle,

which laboured with me in the Gospel; not in preaching it, for he suffered not a woman to teach in the church, 1 Timothy 2:12; but by professing it, and bearing reproach and persecution for it; and by supporting and encouraging, and spreading it with their worldly substance:

with Clement also; which some think is the same with Clemens Romanus, who was afterwards bishop of Rome, and whose epistle to the Corinthians is still extant; other writings are ascribed to him, but are spurious; however, by his name he seems to be a Roman; and from his being joined with the apostle, as one with whom these women also laboured in the Gospel, he appears to be a preacher of it at Philippi:

and with other my fellow labourers; in the work of the ministry, as Timothy, who was with him at Philippi, when he first preached the Gospel there, Acts 16:1, and some others:

whose names are in the book of life; the book of God's eternal purposes and decrees, divine predestination to eternal life; and this being called a "book", and the names of persons being said to be in it, denote the love of God to his elect, his care of them, his value for them, his remembrance of them, and the exact knowledge which he has of them; as well as imply, that his eternal election of them is personal and particular, is well known to him, and is sure and unchangeable; being more so than the writing of Pilate on the cross, who said, what I have written, I have written, John 19:22; and is called the "book of life", because those whose names are written in it, have a spiritual life here, and an eternal one hereafter; to both which they are afore written in this book, or pre-ordained in God's counsels, and certainly and infallibly enjoy it: now the apostle's knowledge of these persons being written in this book, did not arise from any special revelation, as being shown the book of life, and the names of the elect in it, when he was caught up into the third heaven, 2 Corinthians 12:2; nor was his knowledge of this matter peculiar and limited to these persons only, but common to all that he had reason to hope and believe had received the grace of God in truth, and walked worthy of the calling wherewith they were called, Ephesians 4:1; such persons in a judgment of charity, which hopes and believes all things, he concluded were in this book of life; and the same judgment, faith, and hope, ought all believers to form and entertain one of another, nothing appearing contrary to it, in their faith and conversation,

(d) Vid. Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 30.

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the {c} book of life.

(c) God is said, after the manner of men, to have a book, in which the names of his elect are written, to whom he will give everlasting life. Ezekiel calls it the writing of the house of Israel, and the secret of the Lord; Eze 13:9.

True yoke-fellow (γνήσιε σύνζυγε)

For true, see on naturally, Philippians 2:20. It is supposed by some that the word rendered yoke-fellow is a proper name, Synzygus, and that true is to be explained as rightly so called. This explanation would be favored by the play upon the name Onesimus in the Epistle to Philemon, and is not improbably correct. The name has not been found in inscriptions, as is the case with many of the names in these epistles, as, for instance, Euodia and Syntyche. Some suppose that the chief of the bishops or superintendents at Philippi is thus addressed; but, in that case, the word would probably appear elsewhere in the New Testament. Clement of Alexandria, assuming that Paul was married, thinks that he addresses his wife. Others suppose that Lydia is addressed.

Help (συλλαμβάνου)

Lit., take hold with. Compare Luke 5:7. The verb is used of conception, Luke 1:24; arrest, Matthew 26:55; Acts 12:3; catching, as fish, Luke 5:9. Compare the compound συναντιλάμβανομαι help, Luke 10:40 (note); Romans 8:26.

Which labored with me (αἵτινες συνήθλησάν μοι)

The double relative explains and classifies: for they belonged to the number of those who labored. Rev., for they labored. Labored, lit., strove as athletes, as Philippians 1:27. Compare Sophocles: "These girls preserve me, these my nurses, these who are men, not women, in laboring with me" ("Oedipus at Colonus," 1367-8).


Supposed by some to be Clement the Bishop of Rome. Origen identifies them, saying: "Clement to whom Paul bears Testimony in Philippians 4:3." So also Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome. Chrysostom speaks of Clement as the constant companion of Paul in all his travels. Irenaeus, on the contrary, who mentions him as the pupil of an apostle, says nothing of his connection with Paul, by name, and would not have been likely to pass over this identity in silence had he been aware of it. Clement was a member of the Roman church, and the name was a very common one. A Roman consul, Flavius Clemens, was sentenced to death by Domitian on account of atheism, which was the common pagan designation of Christianity. The Roman catacombs furnish evidence that Christianity had penetrated into the Flavian family, so that there may have been two prominent Christians in Rome of the same name. The identity of Clement of Rome with the Clement of this epistle has been very generally abandoned. The latter was probably a Philippian.

Other (τῶν λοιπῶν)

Rev., correctly, the rest.

Book of life

The phrase occurs seven times in Revelation. Compare Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23, and see on Revelation 3:5. The figure is founded on the register of the covenant people. Isaiah 4:3; Ezekiel 13:9; Exodus 32:32; Psalm 69:28; Daniel 12:1. The phrase was also used by the Rabbins. Thus in the Targum on Ezekiel 13:9 : "In the book of eternal life which has been written for the just of the house of Israel, they shall not be written." God is described as "the king, sitting upon the judgment-seat, with the books of the living and the books of the dead open before Him."

3. And—Greek, "Yea."

true yoke-fellow—yoked with me in the same Gospel yoke (Mt 11:29, 30; compare 1Ti 5:17, 18). Either Timothy, Silas (Ac 15:40; 16:19, at Philippi), or the chief bishop of Philippi. Or else the Greek, "Sunzugus," or "Synzygus," is a proper name: "Who art truly, as thy name means, a yoke-fellow." Certainly not Paul's wife, as 1Co 9:5 implies he had none.

help those women—rather, as Greek, "help them," namely, Euodia and Syntyche. "Co-operate with them" [Birks]; or as Alford, "Help in the work of their reconciliation."

which laboured with me—"inasmuch as they labored with me." At Philippi, women were the first hearers of the Gospel, and Lydia the first convert. It is a coincidence which marks genuineness, that in this Epistle alone, special instructions are given to women who labored with Paul in the Gospel. In selecting the first teachers, those first converted would naturally be fixed on. Euodia and Syntyche were doubtless two of "the women who resorted to the riverside, where prayer was wont to be made" (Ac 16:13), and being early converted, would naturally take an active part in teaching other women called at a later period; of course not in public preaching, but in a less prominent sphere (1Ti 2:11, 12).

Clement—bishop of Rome shortly after the death of Peter and Paul. His Epistle from the Church of Rome to the Church of Corinth is extant. It makes no mention of the supremacy of the See of Peter. He was the most eminent of the apostolical fathers. Alford thinks that the Clement here was a Philippian, and not necessarily Clement, bishop of Rome. But Origen [Commentary, John 1:29] identifies the Clement here with the bishop of Rome.

in the book of life—the register-book of those whose "citizenship is in heaven" (Lu 10:20; Php 3:20). Anciently, free cities had a roll book containing the names of all those having the right of citizenship (compare Ex 32:32; Ps 69:28; Eze 13:9; Da 12:1; Re 20:12; 21:27).

Help those women which labored with me - Both in the Grecian and Asiatic countries women were kept much secluded, and is was not likely that even the apostles had much opportunity of conversing with them; it was therefore necessary that they should have some experienced Christian women with them, who could have access to families, and preach Jesus to the female part of them. The apostle tells us that certain women labored with him in the Gospel, and were assistants to others also who had assisted him.

Some think the women here were Euodias and Syntyche; but I rather incline to the opinion that Syntyche was a male, and Euodias his wife. Euodias signifies a pleasant scent; Syntyche, fortunate. There have been a number of conjectures who these persons were, and who is meant by the true yokefellow; but as there is nothing certain known on the subject, it is useless to propagate conjecture.

With Clement also - Supposed to be the same who was afterwards bishop of Rome, and who wrote an epistle to the Corinthians, which is still extant.

Whose names are in the book of life - Who are genuine Christians; who are enlisted or enrolled in the armies of the Lord, and have received a title to eternal glory. The reader is requested to refer to the note on Exodus 32:32-33 (note), and the concluding observations at the end of that chapter, (Exodus 32:35 (note)) where the writing in and blotting out of the book of life are particularly considered, and the difficulties on the subject removed. See also on Luke 10:20 (note).

4:3 And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow - St. Paul had many fellowlabourers, but not many yokefellows. In this number was Barnabas first, and then Silas, whom he probably addresses here; for Silas had been his yokefellow at the very place, Acts 16:19. Help those women who laboured together with me - Literally, who wrestled. The Greek word doth not imply preaching, or anything of that kind; but danger and toil endured for the sake of the gospel, which was also endured at the same time, probably at Philippi, by Clement and my other fellowlabourers - This is a different word from the former, and does properly imply fellowpreachers. Whose names, although not set down here, are in the book of life - As are those of all believers. An allusion to the wrestlers in the Olympic games, whose names were all enrolled in a book. Reader, is thy name there? Then walk circumspectly, lest the Lord blot thee out of his book! 4:3 I entreat thee also, true yokefellow. Some very dear brother who had been a fellow-laborer of Paul. The term is applied to the relation of husbands and wives, and to that of very intimate friends. The one addressed must have been a companion of toils and sufferings. Some have thought that Silas, associated with him in suffering at Philippi is meant (Ac 16:19-24), and that he was at Philippi when this letter was sent, but this is not certain.

Help those women which laboured with me in the gospel. As Euodias and Syntyche have just been named, they are those meant. They had zealously aided his labors at Philippi.

With Clement also. The Clement named is thought to be the same who was later a bishop at Rome, and the author of certain extant Epistles to the Corinthians. The name, however, was so common that this is uncertain.

Whose names are in the book of life. Those are held to have their names in the book of life who are enrolled as the children of God. Compare Re 3:5 13:08 17:08 20:12.

Philippians 4:2
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