While preaching through Philippians, I’ve found Stephen Fowl’s Philippians commentary (from the Two Horizons New Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005]) to be a great asset. It is one of those commentaries that you’d love to just sit down and read. In fact, I’ve had to stop myself from reading way ahead! The commentary is not like one of those older more scientific commentaries where the syntax is treated like a math formula (which are sometimes helpful, to be sure), nor is it one that goes off into all kinds of rabbit trails and weird application, as do some newer commentaries. It, in my opinion, is a nice blend of exegesis, theological interpretation, and clear textual application for us today.
Fowl utilizes the patristics, medieval, reformation, and modern commentators in his discussions. The textual/Greek notes are mostly in the footnotes so they don’t bog down the flow of the narrative. Fowl sometimes wrestles with different interpretations then gives a level-headed theological reason for his own. The last section of the book is a narrative discussion of the main theological themes in Philippians such as friendship, Christian formation, humility, suffering, and joy. I confess I did skip ahead and read that last section, which is outstanding and honestly worth the price of the book.
I’m not yet finished with it, but even the first half and the last section give me plenty of reasons to recommend it. Here’s a short section on Philippians 1.27-30 to give you an idea of the content (from page 71).
“It is clear that Paul’s call to a common life worthy of the gospel, lived in fidelity to the Lord, will tend to generate opposition. In the face of opposition, Christians in Philippi and elsewhere are to remain steadfast and courageous. Of course, the point is not to be oppositional, but to be faithful. Nevertheless, the question then becomes whether Christians in America or elsewhere testify in word and deed to a faith substantial enough to provoke opposition form powers that are either indifferent or hostile to the triune God. Christians in the U.S. should not assume that the church here does not suffer state-sponsored opposition because of the benevolence of our government or the protective powers of our constitution. I suspect that it is much more the case that the common life of most churches is so inadequate to the gospel and our disunity so debilitating that the state has nothing to fear from us. I am also confident that should substantial numbers of Christians in America, under the Spirit’s guidance and provocation, repent and take Paul’s words to the Philippians seriously, then we, too, may find that we have been given that gracious gift of not simply believing in Christ but also suffering for his sake [1.29].”
This section has some other deep stuff well worth pondering, things that arise from textual studies, broader context, and meditation.
On a side note, I also just saw that Eerdman’s recently published a book on John’s Gospel by Jerome Neyrey, whose articles I found helpful in Johaninne studies.