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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 4

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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Final Exhortations (4:1-9)

In this final chapter, Paul expresses his affection for the Philippians once again by using the terms "brethren" and "long for." These words emphasize his intimate relationship with the Philippians as well as the personal nature of this letter. On the heels of his condemnation of the doctrines and practices of the Judaizers, Paul exhorts the Philippians to stand firm in their faith in Christ and in His teachings. He repeats the previous exhortations of "joy" (1:4, 25; 2:2, 29), to "stand firm" (1:27), and "to be of the same mind" (1:7; 2:2, 5; 3:15, 19) in these verses. He makes further appeals to unity among them, referring to the specific case of Euodias and Syntyche, and then mentions their mutual struggle in the gospel. This repetition serves to bind the whole letter together in the conclusion; but, at the same time, it reminds one of the difficulty of outlining the letter.

Verse 1

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

Once again Paul expresses his joy and affection for the Philippians. He commends them and encourages them to be steadfast in their lives as Christians. In Philippians 1:27, he speaks of their commonwealth as being in heaven; and in Philippians 3:21, he mentions their eager expectation that the Lord Jesus will come and transform their bodies to be like His. In light of what he has told them, they must, "therefore," persevere.

Therefore: Verse 1 is introduced by a Greek conjunction meaning "so then," "therefore," or "wherefore" (Thayer 683). This conjunction may be used to serve as a conclusion for the previous paragraph, or it may be used to make the verse an introduction to what follows. In keeping with the outline used for this letter, it refers to the latter. "The transition is made by referring back to the thoughts presented in the previous paragraph and using them as a basis for the exhortations that follow" (Loh and Nida 123).

my brethren dearly beloved and longed for: Before Paul commands them, he commends them. He uses the term "brethren" repeatedly in the letter (1:12; 3:1, 13, 17; 4:8, 21), reminding them of their intimacy in Christ. The language here is some of the most affectionate in any of Paul’s letters. The term "beloved" is used by Paul to express his love for them. The Greek word translated "longed for" is not found elsewhere in the New Testament but is similar to the one found in Philippians 1:8. Paul is telling them how much he misses them. He is homesick for them and longs to see them again.

my joy and crown: Joy is an ever present theme in this letter. Paul "by metonymy describes that which causes joy or is the object of joy" (O’Brien 475). The Philippians are a great source of joy to him. In essence, Paul is telling them they make him very happy. The word "crown" in this verse is not the usual word diadem, or crown which is worn by a king. The word here is stephanos, which means:

a mark of royal or (in general) exalted rank; the wreath or garland which was given as a prize to victors in public games; metaphorically, the eternal blessedness which will be given as a prize to the genuine servants of God and Christ: the crown (wreath) which is the reward of the righteousness; or what is an ornament and honor to one (Thayer 587).

The same word is found in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, referring to the second coming of Christ. At that time the Thessalonians would be considered Paul’s crown of rejoicing. Note how the terms "joy" and "crown" are interwoven in both passages. The "crown" here is not necessarily a reference to the second coming as it is in 1 Thessalonians 2. The meaning here is simply as a victor would receive honor and exult in joy at receiving a crown, so, too, the Philippians are a source of joy and honor for Paul. The fact that Paul feels this way toward them "suggests that those harmful influences had not made serious inroads among them, as they had done in some other churches" (Bruce 112).

so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved: Since the Philippians are citizens of heaven, Paul urges them to have courage while here on earth. They are to stand as citizens of heaven who live according to the gospel. Paul has already used the figures of running, pursuing, and walking; and now he tells them to "stand." Herein lies a plea for stability on their part, just as in Ephesians 6:11-14 where the Ephesians are told to stand as soldiers of Christ. This is the same word found in Philippians 1:27. The idea is to remain faithful without giving way during the attacks from without, and the false teaching and discord from within. The phrase "in the Lord" modifies "stand fast." They are not to be swayed by the evil influences mentioned in chapter three, but they are to hold to the truth that is in Christ. They are to remain obedient to His word and true to the life they share together in union with Him.

Verse 2

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

Paul has exhorted the Philippians continuously throughout this epistle to be of the same mind and to be united. While he wants them to exhibit unity in battling the attacks made on them from the Judaizers, there is also the need for unity among themselves. Paul is aware of the threat to unity that exists in the congregation between Euodias and Syntyche or perhaps a potential division that has been orchestrated by these women; or it could even be the same type of schism that exists in Corinth promulgated by the supporters of these individuals (1 Corinthians 3:3-5).

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche: The word "beseech" means to "beg, appeal to, or call to one’s side" (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker 617).

Nothing is known about these two women or the nature of their quarrel. Just possibly one of them could have been the Lydia of Acts 16—Lydia being an adjective meaning "the Lydian," i.e. the woman from Lydia of Asia Minor, with either "Euodias" or "Syntyche" being her proper name. Lydia’s prominent role in the founding of the church at Philippi lends a certain credibility to this conjecture (Hawthorne 179).

The church at Philippi owes its existence to a group of devout, God-fearing women. Perhaps these are two of the original members of the church. Some have supposed that they are deaconesses in the church in Philippi. Still others suppose that each has a congregation meeting in her respective home. There seems to be little question they are prominent church members, who are very much involved in the work. The activity of other Macedonian women in the work is seen in Acts 17:4; Acts 17:12. The dissension that exists is of such a volatile nature that it may divide the church. The Holy Spirit deems it necessary to direct Paul’s attention to the problem and to correct it.

that they be of the same mind in the Lord: Once again Paul uses the word phroneo, which is found in Philippians 1:7; Philippians 2:2; Philippians 2:5; Philippians 3:15; Philippians 3:19. It means literally "to think the same thing" (Loh and Nida 125). The two women are to agree as those who have a common bond "in the Lord." This problem is evidently well known, and, therefore, Paul does not hesitate to call them by name in this public letter. He also seems to feel that both they and the congregation are mature enough for him to deal with the situation in such an open manner.

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow: Paul realizes this problem is of such a nature that it would be most helpful to call on a third party to assist in resolving it. Therefore, he calls upon the individual referred to as "true yokefellow." There have been any number of propositions brought forth by scholars as to the identity of this person. Among those offered as possibilities are Timothy, Epaphroditus, Luke, Silas, and perhaps the most fanciful, Paul’s wife. Hawthorne suggests that Paul is addressing the whole congregation "as a single individual, who shares with him the burden of his apostolic work" (180). Another possibility is that the Greek term sygygus ("yokefellow") might actually be a proper name. If Paul is using this as a reference to one with this name, he is telling him to live up to his name as one who joins together. Such a play on words is found in Philemon 1:11-12 as Paul addresses Onesimus. The word, however, "has not been found as a proper name" (Behm, VII 748-750). Rather than continue in endless speculation, it is safe to say whoever this individual is, he is someone the Philippians would immediately recognize by Paul’s use of the term "yokefellow" to identify him.

help those women which laboured with me in the gospel: "Help" is a verb used sixteen times in the New Testament, but this is the only time Paul uses it. This "yokefellow" is called on to help these women resolve their differences. In spite of what one might think, Paul esteems these women very highly, identifying them as those who "laboured" with him in the gospel. The phrase appears in Philippians 1:27 as well, and the "striving with" refers to the gladiators fighting in the arena. These women shared Paul’s fight in spreading the gospel. It is unwarranted for some brethren to attempt to lessen the work of these women simply because what is mentioned here does not correspond to the limitations they put on the work of women in the church. These women are neither apostles nor evangelists nor elders in the official sense in which these words are used. In the scriptures, women did not fill such roles in the Lord’s church. This is, however, a concrete example of their actively participating in the spread of the gospel, just as Paul, Clement, and the others mentioned in this verse did. "The ministry of women is a prominent feature of early Christian work as is plain in the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles" (Robertson 230).

with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life: There is no other information concerning who this Clement is. Clement was a very common Roman name at that time. He is probably a member of the Philippian church who is highly esteemed among them. The mention of Clement, as well as Euodias and Syntyche calls to the mind of the apostle others who have labored with him in the work. Perhaps Paul feels their names are too numerous to mention at this time.

More importantly, however, is the fact he mentions their "names are in the book of life." "These along with the three already mentioned in verses 2 and 3 find a place in God’s record, ’the book of life’" (O’Brien 482). God knows who they are, and He has listed them in His book of life.

Just as Philippi, and other cities like it, must have had a civic register that included all the names of its citizens, so the heavenly commonwealth has its own roll where God inscribes the names of those to whom he promises life (Hawthorne 181).

The phrase "book of life" comes from the Old Testament where it describes God’s covenant people (Exodus 32:32; Psalms 69:28; Psalms 139:16; Ezekiel 13:9). This language is used in the book of Revelation in 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, and 20:15. The names of those written in heaven are mentioned in Luke 10:20 and Hebrews 12:23. The phrase simply denotes those who are in Christ and have eternal life with God.

Verse 4

In verses 4-7, Paul commands the Philippians to rejoice, show gentleness, and relieve their anxiety through prayer. He also assures them the Lord is at hand. This series of injunctions is very similar to others found near the end of Paul’s letters.

Joy, a forbearing spirit, and inward peace are qualities that very much belong together, particularly in the context of the problems faced by the Philippian community. The threat posed by their opponents (1:28: 3:2, 18), their solicitous concern for the apostle in prison (1:18, 19; 4:10), the trauma created by selfishness within the church--these and other problems called for pastoral guidance and exhortation of the very kind exemplified in this passage (Silva 223-224).

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

Paul reintroduces the idea of joy, which has been a recurring theme throughout the letter. Some scholars, like Hawthorne and Lightfoot, feel the command to "rejoice" is used as a farewell at this point in the letter; however, the adverb "alway" is supplied, followed by a repetition of the command to "rejoice," making it unlikely Paul is intending to say, "Farewell, and again I say, farewell." Perhaps Paul anticipates some objection to his command to rejoice, considering the Philippians’ opponents; therefore, he reiterates the injunction.

Neither the dangers that threaten the Philippians nor the adversity Paul is dealing with are sufficient to eclipse the joy that is theirs in Christ. This is not some superficial happiness that is dependent on all things going well, but a rejoicing that is to be had "always." True joy, which comes from Christ, is ever present and is independent of present circumstances. The Christian quite often is faced with circumstances conducive to sorrow and suffering rather than happiness; yet in Christ one can find the hope, assurance, comfort, and peace that override his present difficult situation and help him to bear the burden with joy, knowing all is in God’s hands. Paul and Silas had previously set such an example of joy in spite of circumstances when they had been imprisoned in Philippi, yet at midnight they were heard singing praises to God (Acts 16).

Verse 5

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Let your moderation be known unto all men: In this statement, Paul is reinforcing his exhortation to rejoice. He is essentially telling them true joy does not come from looking at one’s own interests and desires but from looking to the welfare and interests of others. This is a very similar exhortation to that found in Philippians 2:3-4. The word "moderation" (epieikes) means "seemingly, suitable, equitable, fair, mild, gentle" (Thayer 238). The New International Version and New King James Version render the term "gentleness" while the New American Standard Bible says "forbearing spirit." Epieikes, "a neuter adjective used as an abstract noun, is one of the truly great Greek words that is almost untranslatable" (Hawthorne 182). "The word reflects an attitude of contentment with one’s state, even when one has not been treated justly" (Silva 224). It "is that considerate courtesy and respect for the integrity of others which prompts a person not to be forever standing on his rights; and it is preeminently the character of Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:1)" (TDNT, 2 588-590). "It is the mildness of disposition that leads one to be fair and to go beyond the letter of the law" (Robertson 233). As this attitude is so vital to the Christian who lives for Christ, Paul demands it should be displayed to the extent it would be seen and recognized by all.

The Lord is at hand: Paul injects into these three exhortations the simple, yet forceful statement, "The Lord is near." The Greek word engys is usually translated "near" or "at hand." The word is used in reference to both time and space; therefore, Paul could be telling them the Lord is close to them and with them, or perhaps he is referring to the Lord’s second coming, essentially saying His return is imminent. There is no real problem in understanding the sense in either or both of these ways. If Paul means the Lord is close to them, he is reminding them to rejoice and be humble and considerate because the Lord is concerned about their attitudes and is there to assist them.

On the other hand, Paul may mean, in light of the Lord’s return, they should rejoice and not be self-seeking, looking to the interests and well-being of others. After all, when Jesus comes, what significance will there be in having gotten one’s way? What will have been the purpose of depression, sadness, and worry over one’s opponents, or persecution when the Lord comes to vindicate the saints? Because of the Lord’s imminent return, there is ample reason to live humbly, sacrificially, and lovingly. The fact that He will come should give the Philippians and all Christians a powerful incentive to live according to God’s Word.

In light of the fact that contextually Paul has often referred to the second coming of the Lord, this phrase is probably best understood in the same light. This statement is very similar to James 5:7-8 :

Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand (NASB).

Verse 6

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Be careful for nothing: Since the Lord is returning, Paul tells them that instead of worrying about things, they should take them to the Lord in prayer. The word "careful" means worry. Paul is literally saying here, "in nothing be anxious" (Loh and Nida 129). Lightfoot calls it "anxious harassing care" (Lightfoot 160). The same verb is found in Philippians 2:20 in a positive sense of Timothy’s concern for the Philippians. This needless anxiety betrays a lack of faith and trust in God (Matthew 6:25-34; 1 Peter 5:7). Many people have unreasonable anxiety about things over which they have little or no control. Paul and the Philippians have plenty of reasons to worry since he is in prison and they are being attacked by opposition. Yet Paul, in this way, is reminding them God is greater than their opponents and can calm their fears and alleviate their worries if only they will cast them upon Him. God’s Will will be done.

but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God: R. Rainy has said, "The way to be anxious about nothing is to be prayerful about everything" (Cited by Michael 197). In every circumstance or situation and with every concern, they are to go to God in prayer. Peter says the same thing, "casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7 NASB). Paul strings together three synonyms for prayer in succession: "prayer," "supplication," and "requests." He is not necessarily informing them of the basic components of prayer, but rather he is telling them of the absolute necessity of prayer in relieving anxiety.

He is saying, in effect, that prayer is a conversation with, a plea directed to, a request made of, information given to a person, in this case the supreme Person of the universe who can hear, know, understand, care about and respond to the concerns that otherwise would sink you in despair (Hawthorne 183).

Paul consistently followed this divine advice in his own life. There were so many things that concerned him during his years of preaching the gospel, and all the while he faithfully took them to the One who could do something about it.

Their prayers are to be done with thanksgiving.

To begin by praising God for the fact that in this situation, as it is, he is so mightily God—such a beginning is the end of anxiety. To be anxious means that we ourselves suffer, ourselves groan, ourselves seek to see ahead. Thanksgiving means giving God the glory in everything, making room for him, casting our care on him, letting it be his care. The troubles that exercise us then cease to be hidden and bottled up. They are, so to speak, laid open to God, spread out before him (Hawthorne 183-184, quoting Barth).

As thanksgiving abounds, God is glorified (2 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 1:11). Thanksgiving is to accompany all activities (Colossians 3:17). Paul says, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Paul tells the Ephesians, "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (5:20). Thanksgiving and prayer are found together in Colossians 4:2 ("Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;") as well as here.

Verse 7

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

If the Philippians would but heed Paul’s exhortation of the previous verses, in taking all of their requests to God, the peace of God would stand guard over their hearts and minds. This promise of God’s peace resting upon them is to be granted whether or not their requests are actually answered positively.

And the peace of God: The phrase "the peace of God" is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. A similar phrase is found in Colossians 3:15 that speaks of "the peace of Christ" (NASB, NIV, RSV, ASV). Once again, this grammatical construction could possibly refer either to the peace God Himself possesses because He is not beset by worry or to the peace God gives to Christians. Hawthorne contends this is the tranquillity God Himself possesses.

Paul is not now referring to the peace with God that the Philippians had as a result of their being justified by faith in Jesus Christ: such peace is presupposed. Nor is he exclusively referring to that "inward peace of soul which comes from God", a peace that "is grounded in God’s presence and promise," the result of believing prayer. Paul seems here to be referring to the tranquillity of God’s own eternal being, the peace which God himself has, the calm serenity that characterizes his very nature and which grateful, trusting Christians are welcome to share (Hawthorne 184).

On the other hand, this phrase may mean that through Jesus Christ the believer receives peace that comes only from God. Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). Paul writes, "Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all" (2 Thessalonians 3:16). This peace is the result of the Christian’s casting his cares upon God rather than worrying about them. Knowing God is in control and trusting in Him gives peace to the Christian. Peace, then, is not simply the absence of problems and trials, but is:

...a total well-being associated with the state of salvation (Isaiah 52:7). It follows from the right relationship with God made possible through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1) and the resultant friendly relationship with one’s fellow man (Ephesians 2:14). As such it is a gift from God (Loh and Nida 130).

which passeth all understanding: This phrase is literally "which surpasses all thought." This statement could mean God’s peace accomplishes more than man can understand, therefore effectively removing anxiety, or it could mean the peace of God is beyond human understanding. This phrase is reminiscent of Paul’s words to the Ephesians "beyond all that we ask or think" (3:20). The peace God possesses and shares with His children is often incomprehensible, as in the case of Paul and Silas (Acts 16). As true joy is independent of present circumstances, so, too, is real peace. Christians have often been seen to show peaceful calmness in spite of being persecuted, suffering, or facing death, completely baffling all human reason.

shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus: The verb "shall keep" is a military term denoting a sentinel’s keeping watch or guard over some place or person. "The city of Philippi in Paul’s time was guarded by a Roman garrison, so the metaphor would probably appeal to his readers" (Loh and Nida 131). There are four places in the New Testament where this word is found. In 2 Corinthians 11:32, it is used in the literal guarding of the city of Damascus. The other three uses are figurative. In Galatians 3:23, it refers to those kept under the law; in 1 Peter 1:5, it is used of the saints who are guarded by God’s power until Christ comes; and here in Philippians 4:7, it denotes God’s peace watching over the Philippians and guarding them against the worries and cares of all that assail them.

The terms "hearts and minds" are used to bring the entire scope of human thought and emotion together. "This inner part of a person, then, so vulnerable to attack by the enemy, is that which God’s peace is set, like battle-ready soldiers, to protect" (Hawthorne 185).

The final phrase, "through Christ Jesus," in essence, tells them it is within the relationship they share with Christ that God watches over them with His peace. Such peace can be had only in Christ.

Verses 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. 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.

Verses eight and nine are a single sentence in the Greek text. Paul tells the Philippians they are to focus on the things that in and of themselves are virtuous and beneficial. These are the things with which Christians should concern themselves rather than the things that cause them anxiety and needless worry. These things should characterize their thinking and shape their conduct, helping them to stand firm in living for Christ. This is a rhetorical sentence with an interesting construction. There is a six-fold repetition of the pronoun "whatsoever" (hosa) before each virtue (which are adjectives), followed by two conditional clauses, "if there is any virtue" and "if there is any praise." These virtues characterize Paul’s life, and he encourages the Philippians to take notice of and follow his example and teaching.

Finally, brethren: The word "Finally" literally means "for the rest" or "for what remains" (Loh and Nida 132). This statement serves to begin a new section in the letter. Again Paul uses the term "brethren," appealing to the Philippians to adopt the conduct or attitudes necessary for a Christian. This subtle reminder of their kinship in Christ serves to enjoin upon them the family characteristics they should emulate--these are characteristics found in their brother Paul.

whatsoever things are true: The word "true" is to be taken in a comprehensive sense. It refers to all that is truthful in every area of one’s life, including actions, attitudes, disposition, and speech. It would include all that is morally upright. Christians are those who proclaim the truth and should live lives exemplifying all that is true.

whatsoever things are honest: The word "honest" has been translated by many different words: "honest" (KJV); "honorable" (ASV, NASB, Phps); "worthy" (Mft, Gpd); and "noble (NIV, NKJV). This word "has such a richness about it that it is impossible to equate it with any one English word" (Hawthorne 188). Used in the Greek world to refer to that which was sublime, dignified, or majestic, the word was often related to holy things. It is found here and in 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 3:11, referring to deacons and women, and in Titus 2:2 in reference to older men. The word conveys the opposite of what is vulgar or ignoble; therefore, Paul is exhorting them to think on things honorable, noble, or lofty.

whatsoever things are just: The term "just" means what is "right" and is a term referring to one who fulfills his obligations to God and man. This thought involves responsibility and duty. The Christian should concern himself with thoughts of whether his relationships are good and the changes he needs to make for them to be better.

whatsoever things are pure: The adjective "pure" means holy. It is derived from a verb that means to stand in awe of someone and has come to be used in a moral sense of purity or holiness. It carries with it the idea of blamelessness, chastity, innocence, or unadulterated (that is, nothing bad has been added). In a world so full of corruption, it is often difficult to think only on things that are pure, but such was the exhortation of Paul to the Philippians then, and such is certainly needed in any age. Jesus says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).

whatsoever things are lovely: This word "lovely" is found no place else in the New Testament. It means "that which calls forth love" or "that which is love inspiring" (Loh and Nida 134). The word is defined as "lovely, pleasing, agreeable, amiable" (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker 720). "By their intrinsic attractiveness and agreeableness, they give pleasure to all and cause distaste to none, like a welcome fragrance" (Bruce 121). A Christian should be the type of person who is admired and attractive as a model of Christ to all.

whatsoever things are of good report: The Greek word "eupheema," translated "good report" is found only here in the New Testament. It is defined as "auspicious, well-sounding, praiseworthy, attractive, appealing" (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker 327). The New English Bible renders it "of good repute." It refers to "what is kind and likely to win people, and avoiding what is likely to give offense" (Plummer 97).

if there be any virtue: The phrases "if there be any virtue" and "if there be any praise" are rhetorical. The "if" here is a present reality, and what is said is assumed to be true. In essence Paul says there is, in fact, virtue and praise. The word "virtue" means "excellence" (RSV, Mft, Brc, Gpd) or "goodness" (Phps). The term is used in 1 Peter 2:9 and 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:5 as well as here. It is used of God in the first two occurrences just mentioned and of men in the last two.

and if there be any praise: The word "praise" is used in Philippians 1:11 in reference to the praise of God, and it is often used in that sense (Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 1:12; Ephesians 1:14). Barclay translates this phrase, "wins men’s praise." It denotes the kind of conduct that wins the praise of others.

think on these things: The word "think" is logizomai, not phroneo, which Paul has used frequently in the letter. The verb is actually used in the present imperative, thus pointing to continuous action. Therefore, Paul is literally saying, "Let your mind continually dwell on these things." Barclay translates, "Your thoughts must continually dwell on...." Paul is telling the Philippians they are to take into careful consideration the things he has mentioned; and, even more, they should incorporate them into their lives. Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Jesus says in Matthew 15:18-20 :

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: Paul moves here from the general matters of the previous verse to specifics. "The definite relative pronoun a (’those things which’), rather than the relative osa (’whatever things which’ verse 8)" is used to refer to "those things" he has taught and the Philippians have learned from him (O’Brien 508; TDNT, 7 194). The particulars are not mentioned, but they know full well what he has taught them. He is telling the Philippians they are to translate the contemplation and aspiration of "those things" into action. Their profession should become their performance. Paul’s life has been an open book while in their midst. Not only has he given them instruction about how to live as a Christian but also he has provided them a concrete example of true Christianity in his own life. The gospel message all the world will read is the life of Christ exemplified by God’s people.

The word "learned" refers to learning through instruction (Matthew 11:29; 1 Corinthians 14:31; 1 Timothy 2:11). This term specifically denotes the teaching Paul has given them.

The Greek word parelabete ("received") is a technical term for the receiving of a tradition for the purpose of handing it intact to others (1 Corinthians 11:23; 1 Corinthians 15:3). Paul is saying, then, that he passed on to them the things he received by revelation, and perhaps those things that may have been passed on to him by others. Hawthorne writes:

Paul classifies himself, then, as a link in the chain of tradition, and his word, parelabete, implies that the obligation of the Philippians was not only to receive it, believe it, act upon it, but also themselves to pass it carefully on to others (189).

The things they "heard" do not refer just to Paul’s preaching but to the things they have heard about his character and attitude when faced with various trials. They have seen Paul practice what he has preached. They know the reality of his walk with Christ and see him as the embodiment of what a Christian should be.

The primary verb in this sentence is "do" or "practice" (prassete). It is found thirty-nine times in the New Testament, eighteen of which are used by Paul. He teaches the same principle in Philippians 3:17 and in 1 Corinthians 11:1 : "follow me," "do as I do," or "imitate my example." The truth of the gospel must always be expressed in the life of the teacher or preacher. Christians are to incorporate into real life the things they have learned from God’s Word and have seen in His people.

and the God of peace shall be with you: Earlier Paul refers to the "peace of God" being with the Christian if he prays to God rather than if he worries about things. Now he speaks of the "God of peace." "It is not only the peace of God but the God of peace Himself who will overshadow us with His care. Yet that promise is conditioned by the command to lead obedient lives" (Silva 230). The Christian certainly can have the peace God gives as stated in verse 7; but, even more, God Himself is with the Christian if he is obedient to His Will. 1 John 2:24 says:

Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

What greater peace of mind could anyone have than to know God is with him?

Verse 10

Paul’s Thanks for the Philippians’ Gift (4:10-20)

Paul now addresses one of the primary reasons for writing the letter. Some have questioned why he would wait until this point in the letter to mention his reason for writing. Explanations abound, the most common being that this is actually a separate letter, and the two were later put together. Another viewpoint is that Paul has been dictating the letter and now writes a personal thank you with his own hand. Others believe the reason he waits until now to mention his purpose in writing is that the matter of receiving support from the church is a delicate one for him, who, on many occasions, deemed it best to remain independent from such support. It may be, however, that the decision to send Epaphroditus back is just as important a reason for writing the letter as is thanking them for the gift. In a sense, Epaphroditus’ ministry to Paul is part of the gift they have sent. Paul has already mentioned the gift in Philippians 1:3; Philippians 1:5. He has discussed Epaphroditus’ situation and the reasons he is returning in Philippians 2:25-30.

By the way Paul thanks the Philippians, he does seem sensitive about money matters. He is deeply moved, however, by their generosity and consideration toward him and wants to express his joy and thanks to them. He has not felt they were neglecting him; in fact, he has learned to be content in any situation. He does not covet their gift; yet he is in need, and the gift is timely and appreciated.

Of greater value to Paul than the gift itself, however, is the fact it is considered by God as interest compounded to their account or an acceptable sacrifice that pleased Him.

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.

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again: The word "But" serves as a transition to new subject matter. As Paul begins this section of the letter, he once again speaks of his joy in the Lord. The word "rejoiced" is in the aorist tense referring back to the time he received the gift. He includes the adverb "greatly" to let them know how great his joy was when he received the gift from them. Paul has already mentioned in Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:4 that he rejoices "in the Lord." His joy comes from being in Christ. This expression of joy lets the Philippians know how thankful he is to have received the gift. "His words have to be read in the light of the deep mutual affection existing between him and the Philippian church and in the light of his well-attested financial policy" (Bruce 123).

Paul does not specifically refer to the gift at this point but rather to their care for him. The gift is simply the tangible evidence of that care. The phrase, "at the last," "is an extremely difficult expression to render adequately into English. The basic idea is something like ’now, after this waiting at last’" (Loh and Nida 138-139). Many have supposed Paul is here giving a mild rebuke to the Philippians for having neglected him for some time until Epaphroditus had arrived with the gift. This idea is very unlikely, especially in light of the context. It appears Paul is actually saying he rejoices because they have finally had the opportunity to continue their support for him in his work.

The clause, "your care of me hath flourished," describes the concern they have for him. Today’s English Version translates this clause, "You once more had the chance of showing." This single Greek word anethalete means "flourished again" or "revived" (Thayer 37). It is a "rare and vivid word that appears only here in the New Testament, and (italics added by writer) was used elsewhere of a bush or tree putting out fresh shoots or flowers in the springtime" (O’Brien 517). Paul pictures the resurgence of their concern for him as a plant flowering again in the springtime after a long, hard winter.

wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity: To make it clear he is not chiding them for a lack of concern for him, he lets them know he is aware they simply have not had an opportunity to minister to him. Bruce paraphrases: "I know that the kind thought was there all the time; it was the opportunity that was lacking" (175). The verb "to have no time" or "opportunity" is unique to the Greek New Testament. Paul does not provide for us the reasons they have had no opportunity to assist him, and the reasons could be many. Perhaps they are very poor and unable to send a gift (2 Corinthians 8:1-2). Paul may have asked them not to send anything for a while since many were trying to undermine his work by accusing him of preaching for money or from selfish motives (1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10; 1 Corinthians 9:3-18; 2 Corinthians 12:13-18). It could also have been that no one has been available to send or transport a gift to Paul for awhile. Regardless of the possibilities, Paul makes certain the Philippians know he does not hold them responsible for having failed to support him financially for a period of time.

Verse 11

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Not that I speak in respect of want: Barclay translates the first part of this statement, "Don’t think that I am saying this because." Paul makes a type of disclaimer here: he does not want the Philippians to think he has felt neglected by them or to misunderstand his cause for rejoicing. His joy is not based on whether or not his material needs are met. Paul’s joy is derived from far more spiritual matters. The prepositional phrase "in respect of want" is understood as "because I need anything." He repeats this thought later in verse 17 saying, "not that I seek the gift." Paul does not want to be misunderstood in money matters. He seems to be afraid that perhaps someone might think he is hinting for future gifts. "Paul does not wish his joy at this fresh proof of their love to be understood as mere satisfaction at relief from want or begging for a repetition of like generosity" (Robertson 249).

The feeling Paul dealt with as a preacher of the gospel being supported by the church is often felt even today. It may be of some interest to consider the remarks of Robertson on the delicate matter of preachers and financial support:

We are not yet past this mistreatment of preachers who are paid in most cases a pitiful salary and are not allowed to splice it out by secular business. If preachers do not live well on a pittance, they are considered poor business men. If they do make some money, they are charged with being fond of filthy lucre, as, alas, is sometimes true. But the modern minister must keep out of debt, pay his bills promptly, make a good appearance and so dress well, entertain largely, educate his children, lead his church in beneficence, and save some money for old age when no church wants his services. It is a vicious circle and leads too often to debt and loss of financial standing and almost of self-respect. The whole business cheapens the preacher. Paul felt it all keenly (249-250).

for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content: Paul’s entire experience as a preacher of the gospel has taught him an important lesson whether or not others have learned it. Thus, he uses the emphatic pronoun "I." The word "content" (autarkes) is often translated "satisfied" and is a word referring to the "person who through discipline had become independent of external circumstances, and who discovered within himself resources that were more than adequate for any situation that might arise" (Hawthorne 198).

Paul makes it very clear in verse 13, however, that his sufficiency is not based on himself but on God. This word "content" is found in two other places in Paul’s writings. In 2 Corinthians 9:8, he says, "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed" (NASB). In 1 Timothy 6:6, he states, "But godliness with contentment is great gain." Here in Philippians 4:11, Paul says he is independent of external circumstances because he is totally dependent on God. This is the case in whatever circumstances he might find himself.

Verse 12

I 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.

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: Paul begins to describe what it means to learn contentment in every situation. This lesson is what he has learned from his experience as a Christian and apostle; therefore, he says, "I know." The word "abased" literally means "to lower" (Loh and Nida 141). "The Greek word may be used of the dropping of water level in a river, and the reference here is to the needs in one’s daily life" (Loh and Nida 141). This word is found in Philippians 2:8 in the hymn of Christ’s humiliation. Paul has experienced being brought low by poverty, and yet he has learned to be satisfied anyway. This is the antithesis of the next phrase, where he says, "I know how to abound." This word "abound" means "to have an abundance," "be rich," or "overflow" (Thayer 505). Not all of Paul’s life is characterized by hardship, for he had occasions when he experienced great prosperity. In these circumstances as well, he knew how to be content. It is amazing that covetousness rears its ugly head not only among the poor but also among the wealthy. The rich often are not satisfied with what they have, and the poor often complain about their lot. Whether self-imposed or by circumstances, Paul knows how to cope with deprivation and poverty as well as abundance and wealth.

every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need: This statement refers to Paul’s adaptability to the varied circumstances in which he finds himself. The verb memueemai ("instructed") here means literally "I have been initiated" (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker 529).

Used only here in the New Testament, it is a technical expression often used in the pagan mystery cults to denote the act of initiation into the secrets of those religions. Paul’s initiation was not a secret affair; he learned from the hard experiences in life (Loh and Nida 142).

The New English Bible translates this phrase, "I have been thoroughly initiated into the human lot with all of its ups and downs."

These various circumstances are described by the phrases "to be full" and "to be hungry." The first phrase, "to be full," was used of fattening animals or satisfying the needs of a hungry crowd (Matthew 14:20). It means here simply "to have plenty of food." "To be hungry" is the opposite of being full. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:11, "To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless" (NASB). Then, in 2 Corinthians 11:27, he says, "I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure" (NASB). Paul, therefore, is no doubt speaking here of literal hunger. Throughout all of his experiences, both good and bad, Paul has learned to be content. He has suffered from great need; and, at other times, he has had an abundance. In either situation, he has learned contentment. This certainly should be one of the greatest characteristics to have as a Christian in this modern materialistic society.

Verse 13

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

In this statement Paul tells how he can be content in every situation: it is because of his relationship with Christ, who gives him strength, that he has such peace and satisfaction of the soul.

This favorite statement of the apostle has often been quoted without regard to its context, and understood at a popular level to mean that, when Paul was empowered by Christ, nothing was beyond his capabilities. Many English versions imply this with the rendering: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" (O’Brien 526).

The American Standard Version, King James Version, New American Standard Bible, New English Bible, New International Version, and Revised Standard Version are all "misleading to the point of being false" (Hawthorne 201). The Greek word panta means "all things"; but, in this context, Paul is speaking specifically of the points mentioned in the preceding verse. All of the prosperous and adverse circumstances to which he refers are the things in mind here.

The verb "can do" is used by Paul only here and in Galatians 5:6. Paul has the ability to cope with all the diverse situations he is writing about. The reason for his independence is, in reality, due to his dependence upon Jesus Christ. It is Christ who gives him the strength necessary to cope with these circumstances. He is not saying that through Christ he can do anything.

The verb "to strengthen" is used in other places to denote the work of Christ in the lives of Christians (Ephesians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:17; 2 Timothy 2:1). A present participle is used here indicating Christ’s strengthening of Paul is ongoing. It is often in times of despair and trouble, when Paul most often feels his weakness, that he is made aware of his dependence on God. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul states:

But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (NIV).

He whose life was seized by Christ; he who gladly gave up all for Christ; he who paradoxically gained all by losing all for Christ; he who longed to know Christ and the power of his resurrection (3:7-10), and so on, could only envision Christ as his true source of inner strength (Hawthorne 201).

The same principle should be true for every Christian. No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, our dependence on Christ should be the overriding force that determines our response to those circumstances. Christ does not enable us to do just anything through Him, but He does give us the strength to cope with anything.

Verse 14

Notwithstanding, ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

The word "Notwithstanding" means "nevertheless," "however," or "but" (Thayer 517). Paul does not want the Philippians to misunderstand what he has just said. Even though Christ powerfully strengthens him to be content in all circumstances, he still appreciates their gift immensely. This statement is the closest he comes to saying, "Thank you." He says they "have done well" in sending the gift. This phrase means they did "nobly," "appropriately," "commendably," or "beautifully" (Thayer 323). This teaching is similar to Galatians 6:9 where Paul tells Christians not to become "weary in well doing," a passage that likewise focuses on financial stewardship.

The word "communicate" means "to become a partaker with others" or "to have fellowship with" (Thayer 573). A cognate of this word is found in Philippians 1:5 where, in the beginning of the letter, Paul mentions their fellowship with him in the gospel. Paul sees their gift as being a participation with him in his "affliction." The word affliction here literally means "trouble" (TEV, NAB). Paul uses this word in several other places in his writings (Philippians 1:17; 2 Corinthians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6). By sending Epaphroditus to bring the gift to Paul and to minister to his needs, the Philippians have taken some of Paul’s burden upon themselves. What they have done for Paul, they have in essence done for the gospel. It is their sympathy and fellowship in the work and in his troubles that Paul delights in, rather than simply the money that has been sent. The gift stands as a sign or token of the fellowship they enjoy in the common cause for which they labor. One of the greatest needs in any age of the church is for her members to share in the spreading of the gospel by relieving the afflictions of those who preach it.

Verse 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.

Now ye Philippians know also: Verses 15 and 16 are one long sentence in the Greek text. The particle "Now" (de) begins a section where Paul remembers the Philippians have consistently supported him for years. He literally says, "And you yourselves also know, Philippians." It is rare for Paul to address his readers by name, but he does so here and in 2 Corinthians 6:11 and Galatians 3:1. In the latter two passages, he calls them by name as he rebukes them, but he does not do so here. If anything, Paul is expressing his affection and gratitude for them. Paul knows the love they have shown him over this time and lets them know he has not forgotten it.

that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia: The New International Version says here, "Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel." This translation fits with the words Paul has written earlier in the letter in Philippians 1:3-5 where he mentions their "partnership in the gospel from the first day until now." Paul is no doubt referring to the difficult time when he settled in Corinth, after having left Macedonia. In 2 Corinthians 11:8-9, he says:

I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so (NIV).

It is also likely that Acts 18:5 is a reference to the Philippians’ supporting Paul: "When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ" (NIV). In these passages, Macedonia likely implies Philippi.

no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only: When Paul left Macedonia and traveled to Corinth to work with the church there, they supported him even when no other congregation did. The nouns "giving" and "receiving" are taken from business and are equivalent to credits and debits. Paul continues to use this type of commercial language in verse 17, as he has done earlier in the first part of chapter three. These words are associated with the term "communicated," which refers to financial sharing as in Romans 15:27 and Galatians 6:6. By using such language, it is as if Paul is saying they had entered into a business partnership with him. They gave Paul material goods and in return they received spiritual benefits (1 Corinthians 9:11; Romans 15:27).

Verse 16

For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

Even before Paul left Macedonia, while he labored in Thessalonica and perhaps in other places, the Philippians had generously supported him so his needs were met. The phrase "once and again" is literally "not once, but twice" (NEB, NAB), no doubt an idiomatic expression referring to "more than once." It is highly unlikely that Paul is saying they sent support to him only twice as the Jerusalem Bible says. It is possible he is saying, "Both when I was in Thessalonica and more than once when I was in other places" (O’Brien 536).

This is an amazing fact, and it shows the immense concern the Philippians had for Paul, their loyalty to him, and their commitment to the advancement of the gospel he preached. For when Paul, upon having founded the church in Philippi, left there, he went immediately to Thessalonica, a city only a short distance away, to carry on his mission (Acts 17:1-9). Even (kai) there, and so soon after their own beginning as a church, the Philippians began their pattern of giving by sending help to relieve the pressure of his needs (Hawthorne 205).

The church at Philippi should put to shame the great number of congregations that, having existed for decades, horde their treasury into enormous proportions while refusing to share in the spreading of the gospel by generously supporting preachers of the gospel.

Verse 17

Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

Once again, Paul seems to fear his strong commendation of the Philippians might be misunderstood by them as a request for more support. Just as he did in verse 11, he seeks here to avoid any wrong impressions. In verse 11 he says he has learned self-sufficiency through Jesus Christ and is content in all circumstances, whether he receives support from them or not. Here he says his desire is not merely that they send gifts to him from time to time but, more importantly, that God considers their gifts as fruit put to their spiritual account. As the Philippians’ hearts are on Paul’s welfare and the cause of Christ rather than keeping the money for themselves, so Paul’s heart is on their spiritual welfare and God’s Will being done rather than on receiving the money.

The compound verb "desire" means to "search for, or seek diligently" (Thayer 238). He says in a negative sense what he seeks for is not the gift, but he does seek for "fruit that may abound to your account." Paul continues the commercial language he has frequently used in the epistle. The word "fruit" is used earlier in the letter by Paul in Philippians 1:11; Philippians 1:22. It "can mean the ’advantage or profit’ gained in a business transaction and thus here probably signifies ’interest’" (O’Brien 538). "The word ’added’ translates a participial form of a verb meaning ’to increase,’ ’to accumulate,’ ’to multiply,’ suggesting compound interest" (Loh and Nida 146). Paul is saying their gifts that support the preaching of the gospel are considered as profitable investments that accrue to their account, which will be paid by God on the final day. How small and insignificant are the gifts Christians might present in their lifetime so that the gospel can be preached, considering God will give them an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom in the end. So, too, according to 2 Corinthians 9:8-15, Christians are richly blessed in their lives by their generous giving. God is glorified; God provides; and saints are blessed.

Verse 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.

But I have all, and abound: "The verb ’I have’ is often used in the sense of ’I have received’ as a technical expression for the drawing up of a receipt in financial transactions" (Loh and Nida 147). The Revised Standard Version renders this passage, "I have received full payment." The Good News Bible translates, "Here, then, is my receipt for everything." Paul can give them his receipt in full for their gifts. He abounds because of their gift and their love. The verb for "abound" is used twice in verse 12. Paul is telling them he now has more than enough.

I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you: The verb "am full" means "to fill up" or "make full" (Thayer 517). It is in the perfect passive, meaning Paul is in a state of being full. Paul’s being "full" has been accomplished by the Philippians’ gift. He has all he needs; he is fully supplied and does not need anything else. The Philippians have done more than enough for him. Such a commendation sets forth the exemplary manner in which any congregation should support the preaching of the gospel. Occasionally, there are those in the church who are afraid they are going to give the preacher too much. The Philippians were eager to do that.

The "things" or "gifts" Epaphroditus brought to Paul are not specifically identified. Epaphroditus’ ministry is discussed in Philippians 2:25-30.

an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God: Paul moves from the language and imagery of banking and accounting to that of religion and sacrifice. He first likens their gift to the sweet fragrance of incense. This figure is used in Ephesians 5:2 of the gift of Jesus Christ given to man: "and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma" (NASB). This imagery is taken from the Old Testament sacrificial system (Genesis 8:21; Exodus 29:18; Exodus 29:25), showing just how valuable and precious their gift to Paul is considered by God.

The second expression Paul uses--"a sacrifice acceptable"-- likens the gift to a sacrifice to God that is very pleasing to Him. The word "sacrifice" is found in Philippians 2:17 and is the most common word used in scripture for sacrifices or offerings. The gifts the Philippians have often provided Paul are of great cost to them (2 Corinthians 8:1-2); therefore, such terminology is appropriate. The idea that:

...Christian praise corresponds quite precisely to the Jewish sacrifices is made explicit in Hebrews 13:15-16, that is, by the New Testament writer who shows the greatest interest in formulating the relation between the old and new covenants (Silva 239).

The Christian is to offer himself as a "living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1-2), and his entire life should be one of worship and sacrifice to God.

The apostle’s description of the Philippians’ gifts in these sacrificial terms is part of a wider New Testament teaching about all Christians being a new priesthood (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:5-6) who have direct access to God and spiritual sacrifices to offer (1 Peter 2:5) (O’Brien 542).

Verse 19

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

But my God shall supply all your need: Verses 19 and 20 bring to conclusion the paragraph in which Paul expresses his gratitude to the Philippians for the gift sent to him by Epaphroditus. Verse 19 is closely associated with the doxology found in verse 20. Most commentators feel "but" (de) is better translated "and." Paul assures the Philippians God will supply their every need. Just as God always met Paul’s every need (in this case through the Philippians), God would meet the Philippians’ every need. This thought compares with 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.

"All your need" is literally "every need of yours" (O’Brien 546). This phrase is a comprehensive expression including both physical and spiritual needs. In light of the fact he is concluding the letter, he likely refers not only to their material needs, which would be implied in the immediate context, but also to the other matters he addresses in the letter. The most significant point is God will supply their spiritual needs. This teaching is reminiscent of Philippians 1:6 and his prayer for them in Philippians 1:9-11.

Many pervert this verse, as well as others, in attempting to promote a form of Christianity that supposedly guarantees wealth and health. Such absurd ideas are completely foreign to the word of God. God will supply the Christian’s every need, not his every want.

according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus: Here are three prepositional phrases describing the awesome ability of God to meet their needs. The first phrase is literally "according to his riches" and means "on a scale worthy of His wealth" (Michael 226). The Today’s English Version translates, "With all his abundant wealth." The Jerusalem Bible says, "as lavishly as only God can." God has an abundant supply and is more than able to meet their needs.

The second phrase is "in glory." There are a number of ways in which one might understand the words "in glory" in this context. They possibly refer to "the realm of the heavenly" (Lightfoot 167); or perhaps "the coming age" (Lohmeyer 189); or as an adverb, meaning God would gloriously fill their need (Vincent 151); or even as an adjective thereby meaning "glorious wealth" (Bruce 131). Some of the modern translations, such as the Good News Bible, New American Bible, and Phillips, take this position. The context seems to imply the latter is the case. It is worthy of note, however, that Paul has often referred to the coming of the Lord several times in this letter (1:10; 2:16; 3:20-21; 4:1) and may have it in mind again here. There can be no doubt, however, that Paul is certain God will supply their every need throughout their lives.

"By Christ Jesus" is the final prepositional phrase found in this statement. Paul is telling them Jesus Christ is the reason for God’s abundant providence. It is because of their union with Christ that God will so abundantly supply their every need.

Verse 20

Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Paul concludes both this paragraph thanking the Philippians for the gift and the entire letter with this typical doxology. Most doxologies, and this one is no exception, include naming the One addressed; mentioning the praise, glory, and honor due Him; and referring to eternity. They nearly always close with an "Amen." This one is addressed to "God and our Father." Jesus refers to God as "our Father" as He taught the disciples to pray, and this sweet expression usually accompanies the prayers of the saints, even until the present. Upon one’s obedience to the gospel, he is adopted into God’s family, the church, and thus becomes a child of God who has the right to address Him as "Father" through Jesus Christ.

The word "glory" has a definite article in the Greek text, indicating "’that glory’ which properly belongs to God and is rightly ascribed to him" (O’Brien 550). The word "glory" refers to the praise and honor men offer to Him as they acknowledge His glory, might, and power. Man does not give God something He does not possess but rightfully acknowledges who He is and what He possesses.

In the final phrase of this doxology, Paul expresses the length of time men should praise God. The phrase is literally "to the ages of the ages" (Hawthorne 209). Praise to God is not limited to the present age, but endures even in the age to come. He concludes the doxology with "Amen." "The expression ’amen’ is a Hebrew form of affirmation meaning ’truly’ or ’so be it’" (Loh and Nida 150).

Verse 21

Final Greetings (4:21-23)

Paul comes to the end of the letter and sends greetings to the Philippians from other brethren; then he follows the greeting with a benediction. It is possible the apostle writes these final words with his own hand as he did in the letter to the Galatians and in the 2 Thessalonian letter (Galatians 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:17). These words close one of the briefest, yet richest letters written by Paul.

Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.

Salute every saint in Christ Jesus: The main verb in the sentence, "Salute," means to "greet" and is used regularly at the close of letters. The New English Bible and New American Bible render this, "give my greetings to." The verb is in the second person plural in the Greek text; therefore, it seems Paul is giving certain persons instructions to give his greetings to every individual in the congregation. If so, he is probably speaking to the church leaders addressed in Philippians 1:1.

In all likelihood the letter is to be read before the whole church. He refers to the Philippians as "saints" (as he does in addressing them at the opening of the letter in 1:1), which literally means "holy ones." It is a little unusual that Paul does not mention any of the Philippians by name in his final greetings as he so often does in his other letters. It might be that, in light of the need for his teaching concerning unity and humility, he thinks it best not to single out any individual but rather to address the congregation as a whole.

The brethren which are with me greet you: It is difficult to determine exactly who "the brethren" with Paul are. No doubt Timothy would be among them; perhaps Luke is with him; and it is likely there are other co-workers with him at that time. Paul usually had various numbers of helpers with him throughout his ministry.

Verse 22

All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.

All the saints salute you: Each congregation is a part of the "brotherhood." It was common then, as it is today, for congregations to send greetings to one another whenever opportunity to do so was provided. The church at Rome desired for Paul to send greetings from them to the church at Philippi.

chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household: Among "all the saints" in the preceding phrase, "they that are of Caesar’s household" are now specifically mentioned as sending their greetings. This passage could be a reference to those Christians who might be family members of the Emperor living at the Emperor’s palace, but it is not certain or likely. Lightfoot presents an extensive argument that the phrase refers to "the great number of slaves and freedmen from whose ranks the imperial civil service was staffed" (O’Brien 554). Hawthorne writes, "It is likely that Paul is speaking now of Roman soldiers of the emperor, or both (Hawthorne 215). It is not certain why Paul especially includes this group in his final greetings, but perhaps it is to show the Philippians the kingdom of God has infiltrated the greatest and most significant kingdom of the world at that time. He mentions in chapter one, verse 13, the gospel’s reaching those among the praetorian guard.

Verse 23

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Paul closes the letter with a final benediction as he usually does (1 Corinthians 16:23; Galatians 6:18; Colossians 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:18). The most significant element in the benediction is Paul’s wish for "grace" to be with them. Paul begins the letter in Philippians 1:2 by saying, "Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." It is clear Paul understands Jesus is the source of grace, and it is in Him that all grace would abound in their lives. The word "grace" aptly expresses the love and mercy God showed by giving His Son Jesus Christ.

The final phrase of the letter, "be with you all," is literally "be with your spirit" (Loh and Nida 152). The Galatian letter is the only other letter in which Paul uses the same wording in the closing benediction. "In all likelihood Paul means to say nothing more profound by the expression ’with your spirit’ than to say ’with you’" (Hawthorne 216).

The "Amen" with which Paul ends the letter is probably his own response to the benediction he has just written. As in the remarks in verse 20, the word means "let it be so."

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Philippians 4". "Contending for the Faith". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/philippians-4.html. 1993-2022.
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