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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 4

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verse 1


"Stand Fast In The Lord"

In chapter 3 of Philippians, Paul warned of the danger of false teachers. He stressed the importance of having heaven as one's only goal. He also pointed toward heaven as the place where Christ's followers maintain their citizenship. Because of all thes things, the apostle went on to encourage the brethren to "stand fast," like soldiers holding position in the thick of battle. As he was urging them to stand fast, Paul used four different expressions to show his deep feelings for the Christians at Philippi. They were his "beloved," which Thayer says was a tender address used for one who was esteemed, dear or a favorite. Naturally, with those types of feelings accompanied by a long period of separation, Paul could also say he longed for them. As Thayer says, they were a cause of joy even in the apostle's imprisonment. Further, he viewed them as being like a victor's crown or a crown given to honor a guest at a banquet ( Php_4:1 ).

Verses 2-3

Directions To Two Christian Women

Paul beseeched two women by name. He did not take sides, but asked each to change. He wanted them to lay aside their differences and be united in purpose in the Lord's service. Paul asked an unnamed co-worker to help these women lay aside their differences. The women had been great helpers in the service to the Lord. They had helped Paul, Clement and others, "whose names are in the Book of life". It is wonderful to realize God keeps an active list of those who will inherit eternal life. Anyone can be on it if he will only be a faithful servant ( Php_4:2-3 ; Act_2:47 ; 1Co_9:27 ).

Jesus told his disciples to "rejoice because your names are in heaven ( Luk_10:20 ). The writer of Hebrews addressed his readers as "the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven" ( Heb_12:23 ). Similarly, the Lord promised, "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Gook of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels ( Rev_3:5 ).

Verses 4-7

Maintaining The Right Frame of Mind

Paul was in a Roman prison, yet he could tell those in the Philippian church, "Rejoice...rejoice". The reason for this can only be that he was "in the Lord" and knew all would work out for his good ( Rom_8:28-29 ; 2Ti_1:12 ). He knew his labor would not come to naught ( Php_4:4 ; 1Co_15:58 ).

Along with rejoicing, Paul taught them to have a gentle demeanor which does not insist on its own rights. Hughes suggests the father in the story of the prodigal son as a good example of this ( Luk_15:11-32 ). This should especially be done since, "The Lord is at hand". The Christian has strength to forbear because the Lord is always close to help us ( Mat_28:20 ; Psa_145:18-19 .) It might also be said that the Lord's return should always be counted as near, since we do not know when he will come and must be prepared ( Php_4:5 ; Mat_25:1-13 ).

In using the word "anxious," which Wiersbe says literally means "to be pulled in different directions," Paul is saying the Christian should not let even one thing cause him to fear so as to be pulled away from his hope ( Heb_2:1 ; Heb_3:12-13 ; Mat_6:25-34 ). It is alright to take care of the physical ( 1Ti_5:8 ; 2Th_3:6-15 ), but not to the point of neglecting the spiritual. Instead, Christians should approach God and ask his help in times of need. Of course, those who remember to tell him their needs should be sure to remember to thank him ( Eph_5:20 ; Luk_17:11-19 ). If Christ's followers would take "everything" to God in prayer, including the little things, they might not have so many big things to take to him ( Php_4:6 ).

The result of taking all to God in prayer will be an inner tranquility given by God to the believer ( Joh_14:27 ). This peace will stand like a military guard over the minds of those in Christ Jesus. No one looking at this peace from a human standpoint can understand it. Neither can the one who possesses such peace fully understand or explain it, but they would not give it up ( Php_4:7 ; Isa_26:3 ).

Verses 8-9

Thinking On Things That Will Yield the Peace of God

Those things given thoughtful consideration will have a great impact on one's life ( Pro_23:1-35 ; Pro_7:1-27 ; Pro_4:23 ; Mat_12:34 ). Knowing this, Paul gave a list of things to think on. He would have Christians think on "true things," which would be things in accord with God's word ( Joh_17:17 ). "Noble things" would be reverend, serious, combining a sense or gravity and dignity. The word "just" indicates right conduct. "Pure" is used only for those things not contaminated. Pleasing and agreeable things would be "lovely." Only those things with a good reputation would qualify as being "of good report".

The New Bible Commentary: Revised suggests that "virtue is moral excellence. Paul wanted the church at Philippi to love so as to show a moral excellence and praiseworthy type of conduct. To do that, he told them they would have to give close attention to those things just mentioned ( Php_4:8 ).

Paul had both taught them and shown them how to live the Christian life. So, he urged them to go on from right thought to right action ( 1Co_11:1 ). Such would result in God, who is the source of peace, being with them ( Php_4:9 ; compare vs. 7.)


The Lord Enabled Paul in All Circumstances

The church in Philippi had sent Paul a gift just prior to the time he wrote this letter. Their help was not something new, but a revival of a good work they had done before. From what the apostle also says, it seems they had been wanting to help but had been hindered in some way. Max Hughes says "their lack was not sympathy but of opportunity" ( Php_4:10 ).

Even today, as this passage is read, it might appear Paul was suffering through some time of great deprivation. However, Paul said such was not the case because he had learned to be content, or live without assistance, no matter what physical circumstances were his. Notice, he had to learn. It did not come naturally. Paul knew how to suffer through sparse times ( 2Co_11:7 ) and times of plenty. His joy was not based upon his economic status of the moment ( Php_4:11-12 ).

Paul could be content no matter what his circumstances because he was in Christ (compare Eph_1:3-4 ; Eph_1:6-7 ; Eph_1:10-11 ; Eph_2:4-6 ; Eph_2:13 ). Instead of "through Christ," the American Standard Version has "in him," which reminds us of the location of Paul's rejoicing as was seen in verse 4. Any true follower of Christ can be confident that all will work out for his good in Christ ( Php_4:13 ; 2Co_2:14 a; Rom_8:28 ; Rom_8:35-39 ).

Verses 13-16

Thankfulness for a Generous Church

Paul did not want to seem ungrateful so he commended the Philippian church for their good work. They shared, or had part in, his suffering when they helped. Actually, our word, "fellowship" would fit here in place of the word "shared" ( Php_4:14 ).

From Paul's very first experience with the church at Philippi, he had found them to be generous, always ready to supply his needs. Paul went from Philippi to Thessalonica, then Athens and Corinth ( Act_17:1 ; Act_17:15-16 ; Act_18:1 ). We know Paul received help while in Corinth ( 2Co_11:9 ). This probably came from Philippi, since we know Thessalonica had no part in it ( 1Th_2:9 ; 2Th_3:8 ). In fact, they sent for him while he was in Thessaloniaca, another Macedonia town ( Php_4:15-16 ).

Verses 17-19

Blessings Are Found In Giving

Paul was not concerned about material provision for himself, but was glad because they would be blessed for it ( Php_4:17 ). The apostle told the Ephesian elders "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'" ( Act_20:35 ).

Their gift had completely taken care of his needs and went up before God as a pleasing sacrifice ( Php_4:18 ). The wording here reminds us of God's response to Noah's sacrifice when he got off the ark, as well as God's instructions in the law of Moses and his words to Israel through Ezekiel ( Gen_8:20-22 ; Exo_29:18 ; Eze_20:40-41 ).

As a result of their providing for Paul's needs, Paul told them God would provide for their needs ( 2Co_9:6-10 ). Notice, it is needs, not wants, for which God will make provision ( Mat_6:24-34 ; 2Co_12:7-9 .) He will pour out to us from his riches. Once again, Paul reminded them the provision would be through Christ ( Php_4:19 ).

Verses 20-23

Closing Words

Paul reminded the Philippian brethren that all praise and glory rightly belong to God. In the sermon on the mount, Christ told his disciples, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" ( Mat_5:16 ). The apostle, knowing the truthfulness of his statement, adds the word "Amen", which Shepherd says means, "so it is", or "so it shall be" ( Php_4:20 ; Neh_8:6 ; Psa_41:13 ; 1Co_14:15-16 ).

Paul wanted to say hello to all, overlooking none. He loved all of them and expressed that love with prayers for only the best in their lives. Those with Paul, the Roman brethren and even some in Caesar's service, also wished them well and sent greetings. Paul concluded, as he started, with a prayer that grace continue with all of them. Grace is, after all, our only means of salvation ( Php_4:21-23 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Philippians 4". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/philippians-4.html. 2014.
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