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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 4

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

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Verse 1

1. Therefore Conclusion from Philippians 3:17-21. This verse should close the preceding chapter. Perhaps no passage in all the writings of the apostle so abounds in terms of endearment, as though he would pour out upon his parchment the fulness of his heart’s affection, concentrating into a sentence the overflowing love of the entire epistle.

Longed for See on Philippians 1:8.

My joy Subjects of joy.

Crown Gloried in now, and to be an occasion of greater glory at Christ’s coming. See 1 Thessalonians 2:19.

So stand fast Thus, both in doctrine and conduct, as they have been exhorted, and as they should stand who are citizens of a heavenly country and looking for such an eternal salvation.

Verse 2


1. To individuals, Philippians 4:2-3.

2. Beseech Euodia and Syntyche were two women of prominence in the Church, who unhappily had fallen into dissensions. Nothing more than is here stated is known respecting them or their disagreement. The counsel given to all in Philippians 2:2, is specifically repeated to them both, showing that they were both in fault, and must each seek a better and a Christian spirit.

Verse 3

3. Yokefellow Probably the chief elder or bishop of the Church is meant, who is asked to help the women named in Philippians 4:2 to a reconciliation. The apostle’s heart was deeply stirred by the knowledge of the variance of two who had been so actively engaged with himself, Clement, and others, in labours to advance the gospel. It was both a sin and a scandal.

Clement Resident at Philippi at the time referred to, and probably the Clemens Romanus who was afterward bishop of Rome.

Book of life A more honourable memorial than a mention by name in this epistle. Note on Luke 10:20.

Verse 4

2. Exhortations to the whole Church, Philippians 4:4-9.

4. Rejoice The keynote of the epistle is again struck, and repeated with emphasis. By its foundation in fellowship with the Lord, the believer’s joy towers above all external circumstances, and may always abide, even in the most distressing conditions. Such is not the joy of the worldling.

Verse 5

5. Moderation The word means forbearance, yieldingness. It is the grace which is slow to take offence, and swift to forgive; which suffers wrong rather than quarrels, and refrains from the rigid enforcement of legal rights. Justice may exact an extreme penalty and demand the uttermost farthing; but they who are expecting a Saviour, from whom they need clemency, may well show all men that they are of a like character.

Verse 6

6. Careful Unduly solicitous: yet apathy and indifference are as widely removed from the proper Christian spirit as the anxious, disquieting solicitude which divides the heart and disturbs its joy, while it leaves but half for God. Note on Matthew 6:25. The true antidote is that constant prayer, which carries every thing, great and small, with no exception, to God. We need him always, as well as in the season of difficulty. Supplication presents the specific petition. The thanksgiving which should accompany prayer is general, and covers all past mercies. Prayer, moreover, asks, making known our desires to God, just as specifically and earnestly as if he were ignorant of them. Thus all anxieties and burdens may be laid on his hands.

Verse 7

7. The peace of God This result follows. This peace, though allied to that which follows the pardon of a sinner, differs from it. It is the quiet rest which God gives him who continually surrenders every thing into his hand.

Verse 8

8. Finally Certain things on man’s part are important to this manifestation of God’s peace.

True Morally truthful.

Honest The old English for our honourable, decorous, becoming.

Just In accordance with eternal right.

Pure Untainted and unstained.

Lovely Calculated to win the heart as well as the judgment.

Good report Spoken well of among thoughtful and good men. These are so many elements of practical Christian morality. The first four go to make up virtue, or moral excellence; exhibited in actual life, they appear as the lovely and well spoken of, and are worthy of praise.

Think Ponder them well.

Verse 9

9. Those things Rather, which things, namely, those just enumerated.

Learned From his personal teaching.

Received Accepting the instruction.

Heard From others as to his character and life.

Seen In his personal conduct. These they were to do. Such is the apostle’s own expansion of his counsel, in Philippians 3:17, to an imitation of himself.

The God of peace The result of this course is the same as at Philippians 4:7. There it is the peace which God works; here, the God who in-works the peace. Not content with giving the grace, he comes himself.

Verse 10


1. Thanks for the gift brought by Epaphroditus, Philippians 4:10-14.

10. Rejoiced The renewed proof of their regard in the relief sent by Epaphroditus awoke in the apostle a holy joy. They were, in their solicitude, like a tree putting forth fresh shoots. They had helped him before, and, indeed, had never ceased their care for him, but they had for a long time lacked an opportunity of manifesting it.

Verse 11

11. Not that I speak That he was in want he does not deny, but he is anxious that they should not interpret his joy in their expression of sympathy as a mere satisfaction at his relief. His experiences had been such, that he had learned under all circumstances, whatever they might be, to be content, meeting adversity with no indifference or sullen submission, but with the cheerful composure which the abiding peace of God alone can give. Insensibility to privation and suffering is no virtue, but to be lifted above them is the blessed work of divine grace.

Verse 12

12. I know As the result of having learned. He had been in poverty and want, and again in sufficiency and more, without murmuring in the one, or elation in the other. He knew the two extremes of fulness and hunger, of superfluity and necessity, and was fully initiated into both.

Verse 13

13. I can do all things St. Paul now passes from knowledge to power. The severe discipline through which he had passed, had taught him the secret of all strength for labour, endurance of persecution and privation, and victory in the pangs of martyrdom. Eadie well remarks, “This ability came not from his commission as an apostle, but from his faith as a saint. The endowment was not of miracle, but of grace.” So, in fellowship with the omnipotent Christ, every believer is omnipotent for all things to which he is called.

Verse 14

14. Ye have well done Ye did beautifully. There was a high moral beauty in this sympathy, in which they put themselves into fellowship with his condition.

Verse 15

2. Grateful mention of the past, Philippians 4:15-19.

15. Ye Philippians This gift was no new thing, for that Church had, from the time of their reception of the gospel, repeatedly shown in the same way its grateful love. After the apostle had left Macedonia, and while he was at Corinth, where he supported himself by working at his trade, Silas and Timothy brought to him the first, perhaps, of a series of contributions sent him when at a distance. The help was opportune. 2 Corinthians 11:9. We may wonder that the Churches of Thessalonica and Berea, in their familiarity with his principle of labouring for his bread that he might not be chargeable to any, (see 1 Thessalonians 2:9, and 2 Thessalonians 3:8-9,) should have been forgetful of his wants; but no complaint is made of them, while the ye only attests the deep impression which the conduct of the Philippians had made upon his heart.

Verse 16

16. Once and again This was at an earlier date, while he was still in the province, and so at home with them. They, perhaps, learn now, for the first time, in this free outpouring of precious memories, of the absolute need which their love had relieved.

Verse 17

17. I desire fruit Here again is a sensitive guarding against misconstruction. It is not the money that he most cares for. It is rather its result to themselves in the spiritual gifts always bestowed upon those who give their money out of love to the Master, and in the further rewards of the judgment day. See Matthew 25:40.

Verse 18

18. A sacrifice A loftier view of the subject is now taken. Gladly received by himself, and inuring to his abundance, it was, in its higher aspect, an offering to God, freely brought to the altar, with which he was well pleased.

Verse 19

19. My God shall supply You have supplied my one need, but my God, whose I am, and for whose sake you have done it, shall supply your every need. We take the promise to include both the temporal and the spiritual, limited, on the one hand, only by our necessity in the circumstances in which we are placed, and, on the other, only by the infiniteness of his riches in his state of glory. Measure this who can! The sole condition is, in… Christ Jesus, through whose mediation all fulness is given, and in believing fellowship with whom alone can it be looked for.

Verse 20

3. Doxology, Philippians 4:20.

20. Now unto God The thought is too big and glorious for a mere statement, and the apostle’s full soul bursts out into doxology.

Verse 21

4. Salutations and benediction, Philippians 4:21-23.

21. Salute every saint There are three groups of these salutations. First, that of the apostle to the members of the Church individually, specifying none by name; second, that of the brethren, who were most intimately associated with himself, such as Timothy, Aristarchus, and Epaphras, to the Church collectively; and, third, that of the whole Christian brotherhood, among whom, however, are included a special class noted as of Cesar’s household. They were persons connected with Nero’s palace, and probably slaves of the emperor, who had been brought into contact with the apostle in his imprisonment, and, perhaps, converted through his agency.

Verse 23

23. The grace The evidence requires, as in Galatians 6:18, the less usual form, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Philippians 4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/philippians-4.html. 1874-1909.
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