“For God is my record, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.”
“For God is my record”
There is no verb in this phrase, and the word “God” is very emphatic. God knows all the facts. God knew everything Paul was thinking. He knows whether the statement I am about to make is true. This is intense language. Paul was a man of dead earnestness. This is the same as to say, “God is my witness,” “God knows I am telling the truth.” Paul used this language a number of times in his epistles. You would think that this would not be necessary, since an apostle is doing the communicating. But he was a man of such dead sincerity that he feared others would think that he was resorting to exaggeration.
Paul was telling the Philippians how much he loved them. It was common then, as it is now, to tell people you loved them and not be genuine about it. There are a lot of people who go around uttering sweet clichés. Some people are Pollyanna in their dealings with other people. Paul did not want to leave the impression that his love was cosmetic, sketchy, and surface.
Paul knew his heart well enough to call God to witness to it. He knew he was not manipulating them. He knew the purity of his own heart. How many of us could say that? How many of us could call upon God to witness to the authenticity of our character and statements?
“how greatly I long for you all”
“Long for” means earnestly desire. This is a strong word for affection. Paul said, “I would dearly love to see you. I would love to get out of prison and come to see you. One of the first places I will head is Philippi to see you when I am released.” Paul was eventually released and made the trip to Philippi. Later he was re-arrested, and the last time he was in prison he wrote II Timothy. When he wrote Second Timothy, he knew he was not going to be released.
“with the affection of Jesus Christ”
This was Paul’s way of saying, “I love you.” The word “affection” means the inward parts. Metaphorically it means the seat of feelings. Paul had deep feelings for the Philippians. In fact, he had the same feelings that Jesus Himself had for them! They evidently knew that Jesus had a deep inner love for them. Now Paul wanted them to know that he had that same love for them. No wonder he took a solemn oath to prove it.
It was Paul’s desire to accurately communicate his love for the Philippians.
Paul felt it necessary to disclose his heart for the Philippians. Do you have a dedication to tell those close to you that you love them? To what extremity will you go to do this?