Philippians: Revised | Gerald F. Hawthorne & Ralph P. Martin

The cover of Philippians by Martin and HawthorneI did not expect to enjoy this commentary.

In fact, I don’t like the format of the Word Biblical Commentary series at all. The font size is small, the line spacing is cramped—even the paper quality is poor. I bought this book along with Fee’s NICOT entry on Philippians to prepare a sermon series. I fully anticipated on using Fee as my go-to, with Martin & Hawthorne as a second opinion

By the end of the introduction the tables had turned.

Gerald F. Hawthorne wrote the WBC entry on Philippians in 1983. Two decades later, in 2003, Ralph P. Martin was tasked with revising Hawthorne’s work. Martin wrote with charity and honesty when his views differed from Hawthorne’s. In the places where their views diverged, Martin set an example of how to disagree with grace.

This commentary excels in all areas. The introduction paints a good contextual picture of Paul’s setting and life in Philippi. As with all WBC entries, the Greek text is listed and discussed throughout the “Comment” section. Still, you don’t need to be a Greek scholar to understand the comments.

The best quality of this commentary was Hawthorne and Martin’s profound theological insight. Here are a few examples:

On the word “saints” in 1:1:

Ethics and religion belong together; relationship to God requires a moral response; God’s people must live like God. (7)

On “prayer” in 1:4:

Intercession indeed is the fundamental response of love within the community of believers. (20)

On “joy” in 1:4:

Joy is an understanding of existence that encompasses both elation and depression, that can accept with submission events that bring delight or dismay, because joy allows one to see beyond any particular event to the sovereign Lord who stands above all events and ultimately has control over them. (21)

Those three quotes are from the first 21 pages of commentary—280 more insight-packed pages follow.

Hawthorne & Martin’s Philippians: Revised is a detailed and inspirational resource on Paul’s letter which rewards a careful reading.


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    […] of my favorite quotes about joy comes from author Gerald Hawthorne, “Joy is an understanding of existence that encompasses both elation and depression, that can […]

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