Philippians 4 Bible Commentary

B. W. Johnson’s Bible Commentary

(Read all of Philippians 4)
Precepts for Christian Life.

SUMMARY.--Personal Admonitions. Going to the Lord for Help. Setting the Mind on Noble Things. The Supply of His Wants Sent by the Philippians. Parting Salutations.

      1. Therefore. Because you are citizens of a heavenly country (3:20). My brethren, etc. The words that follow are words of the most tender affection. My joy and crown. A joy to him now on account of their faith and affection; a crown of honor to him in the day of accounts, as his converts. So stand fast. Be steadfast in the way I have pointed out.

      2, 3. I beseech Euodias and beseech Syntyche. Two good women of Philippi, who had apparently been estranged. Women were prominent in the founding of the Philippian church; Lydia was the first convert, and her house was a home of the missionaries. Observe the repetition of the word "beseech." It gives it special emphasis. 3. I intreat thee, true yoke-fellow. Some very dear brother who had been a fellow-laborer of Paul. The term is applied to the relation of husbands and wives, and to that of very intimate friends. The one addressed must have been a companion of toils and sufferings. Some have thought that Silas, associated with him in suffering at Philippi (see Acts, chapter 16), is meant, and that he was at Philippi when this letter was sent, but this is not certain. Help those women. As Euodias and Syntyche have just been named, they are those meant. They had zealously aided his labors at Philippi. With Clement also. The Clement named is thought to be the same who was later a bishop at Rome, and the author of certain extant Epistles to the Corinthians. The name, however, was so common that this is uncertain. In the book of life. Compare Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12. Those are held to have their names in the book of life who are enrolled as the children of God.

      4-7. Rejoice in the Lord alway. Compare 3:1. That a prisoner, soon to be tried for his life, should not only rejoice but bid others to rejoice, shows the power of the gospel to comfort one who has made Christ all in all. 5. Let your moderation. Your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. A special watchword of the early church in time of trouble. It meant practically "Deliverance is near." 6. Be careful for nothing. See Revision. The meaning is, "Have no distressing anxiety about anything. "Care-ful" used to mean "full of care." Compare Matt. 6:25. But in everything, etc. Instead of anxiety, just lay the case before God, and trust him to do all things well. Three elements enter into the appeal to God: Prayer, the outpouring of the soul; supplication, stating our wants; thanksgiving; we must always come to God, not in a complaining spirit, but with thankfulness for present mercies. 7. And the peace of God. The peace that comes by putting all in the hands of the one who is able and willing to deliver. Whenever we fully trust the Lord there comes a peace that is past the understanding of those who have never experienced it. Shall keep your hearts. That peace will be a guard which will keep the heart and thoughts holy and pure.

      8, 9. Finally, brethren. As he concludes his letter, he sums up Christian duties into a single paragraph. Whatsoever things are true. Truth in word, in action, and in thought, must be cherished. Christ is THE TRUTH. His followers must be truth itself. Honest. The Greek is "reverend." Whatever is worthy of reverence. Just. Strict justice in all dealings; an upright life. Pure. Chaste lives and clean hearts and thoughts. Lovely. Such deeds as spring from love and inspire love in others. Of good report. A life of which no evil thing can be truthfully said. If there be any virtue. Lest he may have omitted some excellency he adds, "If there be aught else which is virtuous or praiseworthy, let these all be the things to which you give your minds." 9. The things which, etc. He turns from precept to example, the best of all teachers, and enjoins that they observe not only what he had taught, but what they had seen in his life. The God of peace shall be with you. For he is with all who so live.

      10-14. I rejoiced in the Lord greatly. Because of the proof of affection furnished in the relief they sent to him by the hands of Epaphroditus. Care of me hath flourished again. They had before been careful to supply his needs. See verse 16, and 2 Cor. 11:9. Ye lacked opportunity. They had always been ready to care for him, but lacked means of communicating with him. In those times there were no systems of exchange, and all money had to be sent by messengers. 11. Not that I speak of want. Lest they should think that he rejoiced because he had been in want, he adds that he had learned to be content, whatever was his state. He had Christ, and to him Christ was all in all. 12. I know both how to be abased, etc. He had experienced all things; want as well as plenty, hunger and food in abundance; every variety of condition. 13. I can do all things. He can rise superior to every condition through the strength that Christ gives. 14. Ye have done well. Though Christ gave him strength to bear want, it was a good thing, a kind deed, that they supported him in his affliction. Communicate. Had fellowship with; shared.

      15-20. In the beginning of the gospel. When you first received the gospel (Acts, chapter 16). When I departed from Macedonia. Keep in mind that Philippi "was a chief city of Macedonia." No church communicated with me. Had fellowship. Those who sustained him were partners of his labors. See Acts 17:14. 16. Even in Thessalonica. After leaving Philippi Paul next labored at Thessalonica. See Acts, chapter 17. While here the newly-founded church of the Philippians sent to him contributions at least twice. They also aided him later while he was in Corinth (2 Cor. 11:9). 17. Not that I seek for the gift. This is not his motive for praising him, but he seeks fruit that increaseth to their account. Their gifts will return to them in God's blessings. 18. An odor of a sweet smell. The incense offered in the temple worship was very fragrant. Their offerings were like incense, like a sacrifice with which God was well pleased. 19. My God shall supply all your need. Since you do not forget the needs of his servants, he will not forget yours. 20. Now unto God and our Father. A rapturous outburst. All the glory is God's. He is the Giver. God put their good purposes into their hearts.

      21-23. Salute every saint. Where he knew so many he could not single out individuals for special greetings, but salutes all. The brethren which are with me. Such brethren as Timothy and other fellow-laborers, who were now in Rome. 22. Chiefly. Especially. The class next named send special greetings. Of Cæsar's household. Amid the vast number who dwelt in the palace as immediate attendants of the emperor, amounting to hundreds and perhaps thousands, there were some who had become Christians. What was their condition in life is a matter of conjecture. Philippi was a colony (Acts 16:12), a sort of outlying suburb of Rome, populated with Roman citizens. Hence it is possible that these would have friends in the Philippian church, who would know well who were meant, and to them they send special greetings.