Philippians 4:1-23

When referring to his Philippian brothers as “beloved and longed for, my joy and crown,” Paul revealed his deep appreciation and affection for them. He yearned to see them. As a “crown,” they were a real credit to him in their response to the evangel, and they had also brought him much joy in the love they had shown for God, for his Son, and for him and his companions, and in their exemplary appreciation of the message about Jesus Christ. In view of their heavenly citizenship and the glory that awaited them, he urged his beloved brothers to stand firm in the Lord, maintaining their faith in him without wavering. (4:1)

It appears that a rift had occurred between Euodia and Syntyche, and Paul admonished both of them to be of the same mind in the Lord. As women with faith in God’s beloved Son, they needed to be at peace with one another as members of the same spiritual family. For this purpose, the apostle enlisted the aid of a Philippian brother whom he called his “genuine yokemate” or his loyal fellow worker. Possibly Syzygos (“yokemate”) was the brother’s actual name. The apostle asked this brother to be of assistance to Euodia and Syntyche in resolving their misunderstanding. Paul highly valued them, for they, Clement, and other fellow workers had struggled with him for the evangel, which could have included efforts to advance and defend the message about God’s Son. Therefore, with confidence, Paul referred to their names as being in the “book of life.” (4:2, 3)

Earlier, Paul had urged the Philippians to rejoice (3:1) and again admonished them always to do so. Possibly his having mentioned the book of life reminded him of all the blessings believers enjoy and in which they will ultimately share, and this may have prompted him to encourage the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord or to express the joy having its source in being at one with him. (4:4)

As his admonition to Euodia and Syntyche revealed, Paul desired that a spirit of mutual agreement continue to exist among believers. In their relationship with unbelievers, he urged them to maintain a disposition that would promote peace. He admonished the Philippians to let their tolerant, forbearing, or yielding spirit be known to “all men” or be recognized by all with whom they had dealings. The Greek word epieikés, conveying the sense of being “tolerant” or “yielding,” is expressive of the disposition that does not insist on unyielding conformity to rules, regulations, or customs but that is willing to make allowances, taking circumstances into consideration. The realization that “the Lord is near” serves to promote this commendable spirit, as he is the one who knows all the factors and can render a flawless judgment. (4:5)

Paul admonished the Philippians to avoid giving in to anxiety or worry but to commit all their concerns to God. In answer to their prayers, supplications or fervent appeals, and expressions of thanksgiving, the “peace of God” would come to be their cherished possession. This peace is an inner calm or tranquility from being fully aware of God’s love and care. It is a peace that surpasses understanding, as it transcends any kind of peace, tranquility, or calmness that comes from another source, one that does not rest on a truly dependable basis. The “peace of God” guards the mind from becoming preoccupied and distracted with needless and unproductive worries. It also protects the “heart” or deep inner self from unsettling feelings of foreboding and alarm, as the deep inner self is calmed from an abiding awareness of God’s love, care, and assistance. This safeguarding of mind and heart, however, is “in Christ Jesus” and so is only experienced by those who are united to him as their Lord. (4:6, 7)

Possibly, the opening words of verse 8, to loipón (literally, “the rest,” or “finally,” “furthermore,” or “in addition to”) are to be linked to the previously expressed thoughts about the “peace of God.” To maintain this peace, the qualities Paul wanted the Philippians to consider or think about would need to guide their thoughts, words, and actions. Alethés applies to what is “true,” “honest,” “genuine,” “upright,” or “sincere.” Semnós describes whatever is “honorable,” “noble,” “serious,” “dignified,” “venerable,” or “deserving of respect or reverence.” Díkaios means “righteous,” “right,” “upright,” “just,” “fair,” or “equitable.” Hagnós designates whatever is “pure,” “immaculate,” “chaste,” or “holy.” Prosphilés describes things that are “pleasing,” “lovely,” “amiable,” or “lovable,” or things that induce affection. Eúphemos literally means that which sounds good and so denotes what is “appealing,” “praiseworthy,” or “commendable.” Areté is “virtue” or “moral excellence.” Épainos is descriptive of whatever is deserving of “praise,” “commendation,” “approval,” or “approbation.” It appears that the true, noble, just, chaste, and lovable things are then included in the expression “if any virtue or if any praise.” Whatever is true, noble, just, chaste, and lovable can be described as virtuous or morally excellent, and whenever such qualities are manifest they deserve praise or commendation.

From Paul they had learned and accepted the message about Jesus Christ, and the apostle had been exemplary in speech and action. His words could be relied upon and his conduct proved to be praiseworthy. Therefore, Paul could admonish the Philippians to practice what they had been taught and accepted and what they had heard and seen in his case. Their doing so would assure having the God of peace with them, guiding and sustaining them in whatever circumstances they might face. (4:9)

The apostle rejoiced greatly in the Lord or on account of what the Lord Jesus Christ had done for the Philippians, with their resultant loving and caring response reflected in their coming to Paul’s aid. It made the apostle very happy that the Philippians had once again revived their thinking about him or showed their concern for him. This did not mean they had forgotten about Paul, but they lacked the opportunity to provide aid in a personal way. Although deeply appreciating their kindness and generosity, he was concerned not to suggest being intent on receiving gifts. The apostle made it clear that he did not speak from the standpoint of being in need. He had learned to be “self-sufficient” in whatever circumstances had come his way. Paul knew what it meant to be “low,” basically having nothing or being in humble circumstances, and what it meant to have an abundance. In all things and every circumstance, he had learned the secret of how to be content. Whether he was fully satisfied or experienced hunger, whether he had an abundance or suffered lack, Paul enjoyed a state of self-sufficiency or contentment. He did not, however, attribute this to his own self-reliance but gave the credit to the one who imparted power to him. Based on expressions in his other letters, Paul evidently meant that the Lord Jesus Christ had strengthened him. (2 Corinthians 12:9; Ephesians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:17) Nevertheless, he appreciatively acknowledged that the Philippians, through their kindly assistance, had done well or acted commendably in becoming sharers in his tribulation or suffering. (4:10-14)

The expression the “beginning of the evangel” appears to mean when Paul first began to proclaim the message about Christ in Europe. After he left Macedonia, where Philippi was located, the Philippians knew that as a congregation of believers they were unique in providing assistance to him. No other congregation reciprocated as did the Philippian believers. While Paul served in Thessalonica, they sent something “once and twice” (an expression apparently meaning “more than once”) for his need. In commending them, however, the apostle did not mean to suggest that he was “seeking the gift.” He saw in their generosity the desirable fruit accruing to their account, and this spiritual benefit to them is what he really was seeking. (4:15-17)

With the generous gifts the Philippians had sent through Epaphroditus, Paul considered himself as having everything, abounding and being filled. The apostle referred to what he had received from them as a delightful fragrance, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. Confidently, Paul looked to God to superabundantly fill every need the Philippians might have. The Most High would do so in Christ Jesus or through his Son and “according to his riches in glory” or his magnificent riches that far transcend anything that humans can even imagine, for God owns everything. Having focused his thoughts on what God would do for the Philippians, the apostle was moved to direct a prayerful expression of praise to God, the Father of believers. (4:18-20)

Paul requested that his greetings be given to all the holy ones in Christ Jesus or all the Philippians who, because of being at one with God’s Son, enjoyed a pure standing as members of God’s people. The brothers or all his beloved associates then with him sent their greetings. All others of God’s people or “holy ones” from the area, especially those from the “household of Caesar,” also did so. Members of Caesar’s household could have included slaves, freedmen, or even minor officials. Their being specifically singled out as wanting their greetings conveyed may have been of particular interest to the Philippian believers. Philippi was a Roman colony where retired soldiers and government servants resided, and some of the Philippian believers may have known the individuals from Caesar’s household. (4:21, 22)

Paul concluded his letter with the prayerful words, “The favor of the Lord Jesus Christ [be] with your spirit.” (4:23) The spirit of the Philippians revealed them to be a group of loving, caring, and generous believers, and upon this noble disposition of an inner life transformed by God’s spirit Paul desired the favor of the Lord Jesus Christ to remain. (4:23)