Philippians 4

Philippians 4:1

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

The first word of Philippians 4 is the word, “therefore.”  This indicates that what follows is connected to what has been said before.  Thus, after Paul affirms his close relationship with them by pointing out his love for them, his longing to be with them and the fact that they are his joy and crown, he charges them to “stand firm in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1).  They will do this if they “join in imitating” Paul (Philippians 3:17).

Philippians 4:2-3

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 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 book of life.

There is a problem in Philippi (Philippians 4:2-3).  Two of the women were not getting along.  Their names were Euodia and Syntyche.  We do not know anything about these two ladies except that they were Christians who had “labored side by side” with Paul and others who had preached the gospel in the city.  We know nothing about Clement or any of the other people involved except that they were fellow workers with Paul and that their “names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3; see also Revelation 20:12).  The source of the disagreement between the two ladies is not revealed, but the source of how they could reach agreement is i.e., “agree in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2).  As human beings we have opinions on all kinds of subjects.  However, as Christians we are to have the same goal as Paul (Philippians 3:11).  When attaining to the resurrection is our goal we will not do anything to cause ourselves or anyone else to miss the mark.  Therefore, our agreement should be “in the Lord” and not based upon personal preferences, that is, having things our way.  Paul enlists the assistance of a person identified to us only as a true “companion” or “yokefellow” to help solve the problem (Philippians 4:3).  Perhaps there are some lessons we can learn about managing conflict:

ü Conflict can happen to those who are Christians, even those who have diligently worked for the Lord.

ü When conflicts arise, agreement should be found in the Lord Jesus Christ, not in forcing others to see and accept things our way.

ü When there is conflict, it is the duty of other Christians to help solve the conflict.

Philippians. 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

In the next four verses, a charge is put before the Christians to, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).  The power of this statement comes to life when one recognizes that Paul is writing this while sitting in prison though guilty of no crime (see Lesson One and Philippians 1:12-14), was being maligned by people claiming to be true preachers of the word (Philippians 1:15-17), not knowing whether he would live or die (Philippians 1:19-22).  The reason that Paul (and we) can make such a statement is because “The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5b).  The point is that knowing that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20) nothing can negate the fact that our Lord, Master, King is going to come and that at that time all things will be subjected to him (I Corinthians 15:24-25).  Knowing this also allows Christians to “not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:6).  After all, they know the outcome of the battle!  Their success will come by putting everything into perspective and “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).  The promise is that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7; see also Isaiah 26:3, John 14:27, Ephesians 3:19 and Colossians 3:15).  All of this is done while letting “your reasonableness be known to everyone” (Philippians 4:5a).  The word translated by the English Standard Version as “reasonableness” is variously translated as “moderation” (King James Version), “gentleness” (New International Version) and “forbearing spirit” (New American Standard Version) is one that carries all of these thoughts and might be summarized by the word “gentlemanliness.”

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

As Paul brings this thought to an end he states, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).  To “think on these things” means to give serious consideration to them and to use these virtues to shape their lives.  While others have their “minds set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19), followers of Christ are preparing for the time when Christ will return to transform their present bodies into something glorious (Philippians 3:20-21).  This can best be done by thinking on things that will lead in the direction of Christian maturity (see also Hebrews 4:12-14, Matthew 5:1-12, II Peter 1:5-8 and Galatians 5:22-23).

This exhortation began in Philippians 3:17 where Paul urged them to “join in imitating me….” and comes to completion with Paul urging them that “what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  It is important to know what is right.  This comes from receiving what we see and hear from those who are Christians.  However, they do little for us until we transfer the knowledge into practical actions in our lives.  Paul understands this and urges those in Philippi to take what they know from watching his behavior and make it a common practice in their lives.  It comes with the promise that not only the peace of God that passes all understanding will be theirs (and ours) but that the God of peace will be with them (and us).

Philippians 4:10-13

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. 11Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Having completed his major discourse, Paul turns to the situation that motivated his writing the letter, that is the gift that the Philippian church had sent him.  He could rejoice in the fact that they had sent a contribution to him (Philippians 4:10).  He is quick to say that there is more involved than just his need.  After having been in a prison in Rome, Italy, for nearly two years (see Acts 28:30-31) plus having been incarcerated for a long period of time in the Holy Lands before that (see Acts 21:27ff.), there is certainly reason to believe that Paul would have severe needs beyond the meager amount that would be supplied a prisoner by the Roman government.  However, Paul discounts the need by saying that he had “learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11).  He continues the thought by assuring them that he knows how to be brought low and how to abound and that he has “learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:12).  His secret?  He has already told them in Philippians 4:5b-7: The Lord is at hand, don’t be anxious about anything, pray to God so that he knows what your requests are and let the peace of God into your heart and mind.  He summarizes, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Philippians 4:14-20

Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. 15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

After assuring the Philippians that he could rejoice because of their gift even though he did not need it, he explains the reasons he rejoiced.

ü It was to their credit that they shared the gift (Philippians 4:17).

ü It was “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).

ü It comes with a promise that “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, see also II Chronicles 16:9, Luke 12:29-31 and Hebrews 13:5).

ü The glory is given to our God and Father (Philippians 4:20)

It was exciting and gratifying for Paul to remember how many times they had helped him (Philippians 4:15-16).

Philippians 4:21-23

Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.  23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Paul ends his letter by encouraging the Philippians to “greet every saint in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:21) and assures them that the ones with him send their greetings also.  This was a customary part of Paul’s charges to Christians (see Romans 16:16, I Corinthians 16:20, II Corinthians 13:12-13 and I Thessalonians 5:26).  He specifically refers to those who were a part of Caesar’s (Nero’s) household (Philippians 4:22).  Even while in prison Paul was looking for opportunities to share the gospel (see Acts 28:31, Romans 1:11-17 and Colossians 1:28-29).  This verse shows that he had been successful in sharing his faith even with those at the highest levels who would ultimately decide his fate.  Those truly converted to Christ are willing to share their faith no matter who they are around.  With this thought Paul ends his letter to the Philippians.

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