The Apostle Paul closes out his letter to the Philippian Church with some practical and powerful exhortations. How do you deal with people problems in the church? How do you handle worry? How do you manage your mind? How can God’s peace fill our heart? Paul gives us practical and powerful instructions to navigate through these areas of church life and personal growth in Christ.
1Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
- The Philippians were brethren in Christ who were dearly loved by Paul, his joy and crown.
- They were dearly beloved by The Lord and in The Lord. His delight and yearning was to be with those that were his spiritual children in the Lord to impart further knowledge and spiritual enlightenment. They were a source of great joy to him.
Longed for- The Greek term for “long for” refers to the deep pain of separation from loved ones.
- Philippians 1:8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
- The apostle not only addresses the Philippians as his beloved, but shows the tenderness of his affection for them also by writing that he is yearning for them with a homesick longing, that his heart desires to be with them. That is the emotion that God has placed in my heart for you, my church family.
My joy and my crown.
- 1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what [is] our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? [Are] not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20 For ye are our glory and joy.
- The term for “crown” (stephanos) is the word from which we derive the name Stephen. It relates to the laurel wreath placed around the neck or upon the head of the victor in an athletic contest. It was not at all like a diadem (diadema) worn by a ruler or priest of the day. The laurel began to wilt shortly after it was picked from a tree, so it was only transitory. On the other hand, the Philippian saints consisted of Paul’s permanent joy and crown, or his reward for his labors in Philippi.
- Paul had a genuine shepherds heart that saw the church as a source of joy and a crown in his life.
Stand fast in The Lord. Persevere; stand firm. Paul knew that the only way to stand fast and hold on to their faith in the midst of trials and adversity was to stand in the strength and power and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Beloved, we, like them, need to depend solely on Christ as the Author and Finisher of our faith; kept by the grace of God. We as Christians are to stand fast in the faith without wavering.
- 1 Corinthians 16:13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”
- These two women definitely had assisted Paul in his ministry in Philippi . From the very genesis of the assembly, women filled prominent places in the Philippian church (Acts 16:13ff.).
- These two were appear to be prominent members of this church at Philippi , and who seem to have been at variance with each other. Talk about being exposed! This epistle was read before the entire congregation. Paul pleaded with them to settle whatever differences they had in The Lord.
- The Greek word behind the term “beseech” (parakalo) is the same word from which we derive Paraclete, one of the prominent New Testament names for the Holy Spirit, the One who is the master pleader.
- It is unfortunate that the only thing we know about these two ladies, in addition to the fact that they labored with Paul when he ministered in Philippi, is that they could not get along and could not reconcile their differences. When Paul told them to “be of the same mind in the Lord,” he used the same word as in 2:5 (phronein) where he instructed the Philippians to have the self less attitude of Christ. These 2 sisters did not have the option of packing up their bags and going to 1st Baptist or 2nd Presbyterian Church at Philippi. They had to get it right with God and one another.
- I want us all to ask ourselves two questions: (1) Am I at odds with anyone else in this church or any other congregation? If so, I need to work at getting the problem resolved. Unfortunately the contemporary answer to “solving” many our relationship issues is to just to pick up and move to another church. It may be hard work to deal with issues and it may require some painful self- confrontation. But for the glory of God and the love of Jesus, we are called to do it. Unresolved conflict often gives way to resentment, bitterness or malice. All of which effects your prayer life. Beloved, reconciliation is always Gods perfect will.
3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
- Yoke fellow-The word translated “yoke-fellow” may be a proper noun, Synzygos, the name of one of the bishops or some other well-known member.
- Would you note that it is possible for a person to know that their names are written in the book of life before they die. Would you also note that people whose names are in the book of life are still very human and subject to relational problems and difficulties.
4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
- To often the Christian loses sight of this most important truth. We seem to find ourselves regularly in the slough of despair.” I cannot always rejoice in the circumstances, but I can rejoice in the Lord.
- The Bible is realistic and balanced. We must look at the totality of Scripture rather than taking a verse like this as if it were all that is written on the subject.
- The Psalms are helpful in this regard. The psalmist often is over- whelmed with despair or sadness, and he readily acknowledges his feelings of despair to God. He never puts on a happy face and denies the intensity of his troubles. But in the process of crying out to God for help and refocusing his thoughts on the Lord and His great mercies, by the end of the psalm his mood has changed, even though his circumstances are no different.
- It’s interesting that the shortest verse in the Greek New Testament is, “Rejoice always” (1 Thess. 5:16). The shortest verse in the English New Testament is, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). They are not contradictory! Our Savior could weep and yet have the foulness of joy as He faced the cross (Heb 12.1,2). Paul commands us to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12;15), and yet to rejoice always. The Bible says that godly people are marked both by mourning (over sin, Matt. 5:4; James 4:9; 5:1) and yet by irrepressible joy.
- Philippians 4:4 is a commandment, repeated twice for emphasis, so that we will not shrug it off. It is a command that we must deliberately choose to obey, especially when we’re in difficult circumstances. It has to do with our attitude, which depends on our mental focus, which depends on our choice. The choice to rejoice often must go deliberately against how we feel.
- When we go through trials, when we’re treated unfairly, when we’re disappointed by people or circumstances, we are faced with a decision: Will we obey this command to rejoice in the Lord or will we allow ourselves to be swept along by our feelings?
- Many Christians get depressed because they do not understand God’s purpose in trials or they do not mentally deal with their trials in the light of God’s Word. Often it can start with a simple disappointment–something you hoped would happen didn’t’t happen. Someone you were counting on let you down. A situation you were hoping and praying for that did not come about. If you don’t consciously yield your disappointment to the Lord thank Him by faith, trusting in His sovereign love, you can slip into depression. Satan often comes to you in a moment of disappointment and tempts you to doubt God’s loving care. Peter tells us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, casting our cares on Him, and to resist the devil, firm in our faith, in such times of trial (1 Pet. 5:5- 11).
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones observed, “There are many people who never know the joy of the Lord because they have failed to see themselves as miserable sinners. The only way to be happy in Christ is to be desperately unhappy without him” (ibid., p. 148).
5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
- This has 2 applications. One is practical and another is eschatological.
- The Greek word used here for moderation is translated forbearance” (NASB), “gentleness” (NIV, NKJV), and “unselfishness” (Amplified).
- Webster defines it as a refraining from the enforcement of something (as a debt, right, or obligation) that is due.”Lightfoot calls it “the opposite to a spirit of contention and self-seeking”.
- The word describes the person who has been transformed and softened by God’s grace and deals with others in the same manner. To be forbearing means that we will not be easily offended because self is not on the throne. Scripture tells us never to take vengeance when we are wronged, because that prerogative belongs to the Lord alone (Rom. 12:19-20)
- If the focus of our lives is on ourselves, then when people hurt us, slight us, cross us, etc, there will be a desire to retaliate and get vengeance. Paul wants us to get the focus off of ourselves, and get it on others. When we adopt the mentality of self-love that is all around us, we will always look at the things people do and say as a personal attack. It will cause us to wear our feelings on our sleeves and to be more easily hurt by the words and actions of others. This will cause us problems in the mind as we dwell on what was done or what was said.
- The reason that we are exhorted to exercise this non-retaliatory fruit of a The Spirit is because The Lord is at hand, in the sense of being near.
- Psalms 145:18—“The LORD [is] nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.”
- Psalms 46:1—“God [is] our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
- The Greek word for careful here means to be anxious or worry. What is worry? The word refers to “a troubled state of mind resulting from concern about current or potential difficulties, whether real or imagined.” It comes from an Old English word that means, “to strangle”. It was used to refer to the practice of wolves killing sheep by biting them around the neck, thus strangling their prey to death. This is literally what worry does in your life. It will strangle you physically and spiritually. Worry will choke the life right out of you!
- Fret and worry indicate a lack of trust in God’s wisdom, sovereignty, or power. Beloved, the Great Physician Himself and the apostle Paul prescribe prayer as the solution to worry.
- Please note that Paul gave a complete picture of 4 different aspects of prayer by using four different Greek terms.
- (1) “Prayer” (proseuche) is used constantly in the New Testament of prayer in general. (2) “Supplication” (deesis) concerns special times of need. (3) “Thanksgiving” (eucharistia) looks back to previous answers to prayer in which God helped in similar situations. All mercies received form God need to be accompanied with “thanksgiving.” (4) “Requests” (aitemata) refers to specific requests for specific needs.
- When Paul says to make our requests known “to God,” the Greek word means “face to face with God,” to come directly before Him. This means that when we pray, we must stop to remember that we are coming into the very presence of the holy God, where even the holy angels cover their faces and cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:3)
- This list describing the multi faced scope of prayer teaches us that even the smallest, apparently insignificant detail of daily life, as well as the large, momentous facts which confront them, should be brought to the attention of God. There is nothing too small for His consideration if it concerns the welfare of His children or of the Church.
- A woman once asked the British Bible teacher, G. Campbell Morgan, “Do you think we should pray about the little things in our lives, or just the big things?” He retorted, “Madam, can you think of anything in your life that is big to God?
- And the peace of God which passeth all understanding—The inseparable consequence of thus laying everything before God in “prayer with thanksgiving” is peace which is the dispeller of “anxious care” that comes from God, and rests in God (John 14:27; 16:33; Col 3:15). Such peace passes or exceeds all man’s notional powers of understanding. John 14:27 “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.”
The apostle used a military term here: “keep” here literally means “to garrison, to guard, to keep, to arbitrate, to umpire” our hearts and minds. Since “hearts” (kardias) and “minds” (noun) suffer most at the lack of inner tranquility, God gives us the gift of prayer as a means to guard both.
8 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.
- True-that is to the truths of Scripture and the Gospel in opposition to falsehood, lying, and hypocrisy. Jesus called himself “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and He designated God’s Word as truth (John 17:17).
- Honest-(semna) relates to things worthy of honor, or things worthy of reverence, as opposed to a flippancy that lacks seriousness.
- Just-(dikaia) has to do with what is right according to God’s standard which is spelled out in the Scriptures;
- Pure-(hagna) means “stainless” or “chaste” and relates to things that encourage holiness.
- Lovely– (prosphile) refers to things that incite true love, rather than erotic behavior.
- Good report -(euphema) relates to things that build faith and are attractive in character.
- Virtue– Excellence; moral goodness. Valor.
Think on these things— Please note that Paul doesn’t say to think about thinking on these things! He says that we need to aggressively discipline our minds to meditate upon “these things”, turn them over in our minds, seriously consider them, and reason with ourselves about them, in order to put them into practice.
- Meditation in the realm of The Spirit is similar to digestion in the physical realm. These are the kinds of things that we need to think about and chew on day in and day out.
- How different would our lives be if we placed a post it note with this Scripture over our television, laptop, computer, smartphone, CD player at home or in our car and filtered whatever we watched, read or listened to through this filter.
- Beloved, a key to having a fruitful walk with Jesus relates to a person’s thought life. Christians cannot enjoy God’s peace if they are always allowing unwholesome thoughts to fill their minds. Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
- Verse 9 must not be separated from verse 8. Our thought life forms the basis for our behavior
- These things which ye have both learned—these are the doctrinal things that they had learned from Paul’s teaching and example.
- When Paul says, “Practice these things,” the word implies doing something repeatedly until it becomes a habit or way of life. At first, habits feel awkward and unnatural. Remember the first time you ever drove a car with a stick shift? It seemed like there were a million things to remember and do all at once. But once you get it down, so that it’s a habit, you can hop in the car and drive off while discussing some fine point of theology with a friend, and you don’t even think about what you are doing.
- In Luke 4:16 we read that Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and then it says, “and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath ….” Jesus had a habit of spending the Sabbath with God’s people, worshiping God. We should have the same habit every Lord’s day. We should have the habit of reading God’s Word and praying each day. We should have the habit of avoiding things that pollute our minds. Habits come from practicing these things over and over. At first, when you’re changing from ungodly practices to pleasing God, it may seem awkward. Keep at it, practice it until it becomes your routine.
- And what is the promise given to those who put these truths into practice in light of the glorious gospel and out of a supreme love to please Christ? The God of peace shall be with you—God would give them a peace that would pass all understanding and enable them to stand strong in the faith and stand firm against the attacks of the enemy.
- Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (James 1.22-25).
- Who is the one who builds his house upon the rock? The one who hears the Words of the Lord and does them. Who is the one who builds on the sand? The one who hears His Words but doesn’t do them. One of the great dangers for we who love the Scriptures is to think hearing is equivalent to doing. You might say tonight, “Yeah, I agree with the teaching Jesus gave on judging. I shouldn’t judge. I need to show mercy. Right on.” But if you leave here and immediately turn to someone and start gossiping or analyzing, judging or critiquing, you’re foolish, and your house will collapse.
- We have such need to hear these words of Jesus because Bible students are in great danger of being foolish men who erroneously conclude that because they are hearing the truth and agreeing with the truth, they are automatically practicing the truth. The wise man not only hears Jesus’ words but also puts them into practice. And his house stands when the storm. comes. Jon Courson