This is a personal Bible study in Philippians Ive been working on in the mornings. I have written in out mostly in commentary form. Please verify all things I have written imitating the Bereans in Acts 17:11 "they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so". Thank You! Robin Aylor 11/09/18.
Philippians 4 (ESV)
1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
The word “therefore” sets up Pauls final words in this letter. In this one verse Paul gives two main points he wants to leave with the Philippians. Number one is that he wants them to know he loves them. Don’t miss the many characterizations of affection he ascribes to the Philippians. “Brothers” is a tender family way of speaking. He says he loves them and longs for them. He is spreading his heart out for them to see. He calls them his joy and his crown and his beloved.
What is referenced when he calls them his crown? Well for starters we see “crown” is associated with joy. Other places in scripture we see similar references to the word “crown”. The bible speaks of a crown of righteousness, a crown of life and crown of glory. However, these seem to focus most of the emphasis on a future crown.
But Paul seems to be speaking of a crown of rejoicing that he is wearing even as he is writing this letter.
There are other references to wearing crowns in this world in the bible as well:
Proverbs 12:4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband…
Proverbs 17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of the aged…
These kinds of crowns are something we get here on earth. We seem to get this from Pauls writing the Philippians.
I believe Paul had this same image in mind when he wrote to the Thessalonians. However he speaks of this crown as though it is something that carries over into eternity.
1st Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.
I believe this crown is the joy and glory God has given Paul in being privileged to lead many of the Thessalonians to new life in Jesus, and to play a part in them growing in the knowledge of his grace in their lives.
So in our text Paul is emphasizing how much he loves and rejoices in the Philippians. That was something important to him which he seems adamant to impart with this letter. Since Paul has been talking about how the Philippians should imitate him in his godly traits we should do the same. We should love one another with real love and lay our hearts and lives open to one another as true family. Help one another grow in Christ! Vocalize how you love each other and share their joys and sorrows… and practically help in times of need… exhort and edify one another in the Lord with joy.
Paul then finishes off verse one with what he has told them already… Number 2 point: They are to stand firm in the Lord. Paul knew how satan could get a stronghold in believers lives. They were to join in unity and love and help one another to grow strong and secure in the Lord.
Next he seems to give an example of what he is referring to.
2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
I love how this letter is to the Philippians personally… Paul mentions many here by name as he does in other epistles. It was written to them personally, and yet it is for us personally as well. Thats the way all of scripture is.
2nd Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
Take “faith” for example. God made the promise to Abraham that his faith was counted as righteousness. That promise is for us as well.
Romans 4:22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
There are many examples of this in scripture. Here are a few: Psalm 102:18, Romans 10:4, 1st Corinthians 10:6, and 1st Corinthians 15:11.
But in Paul’s quest to share the Gospel with many… he saw individuals, one at a time. He loved the church as a whole yes, but he related to them in love one on one as well. He knew them by their first names. Paul had gotten his hands dirty working for Christ in the world right along side these individuals.
I need to be more personable in my Christian relationships for sure. I am lacking in this. I need to lay my heart open and share and be involved in peoples lives with love. Paul names many people in his writings and puts them on equal standing with himself like laboring with them side by side and being fellow workers.
Apparently there were a couple women, believers who had disagreements of some kind between them… maybe personality conflicts or it could be a thousand different possibilities. It may have been left unsaid because it does not matter for those who read this letter… No matter what relationship issues we have, as believers we are to agree in the Lord. In John 13 Jesus said the following:
John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
You see, Satan wants to create a barrier to the Gospel working and flowing out in our lives causing us to focus on disagreements, and he does so in many churches. Don't let that happen. Love one another. Be accountable to one another. Pray for one another. Agree in the Lord.
Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
So I believe Paul is continuing to expound on his number 2 point for this letter, that the Philippians stand firm in the Lord. This is going to be accomplished through rejoicing in the Lord… in his word, his commands, in Jesus, his death burial and resurrection. To repeat this to the Philippians that they are to rejoice is not a burden for Paul to restate. And of course, it is not a heavy burden of obligation for anyone to hear that they can rejoice and trust God even in the worst conditions. It is good news.
Rejoicing in the Lord is worship. It’s agreeing with him, It is saying Amen! yes!, yippie skippy!, I’m on board, sign me up, let’s go!, rock and roll!
Also consider that rejoicing is a command from God. We find it throughout the Bible.
Psalm 100:1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! (Thats a command) 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
If you’ve just now thought of it that way you will likely begin to see it throughout scripture as you read, listen and study. It’s an important and serious command. In fact, if we try to obey any other commands God gives us and are not doing them with joy… those works are contaminated with disobedience. Check this out:
After Moses had led Israel 40 years in the wilderness and Joshua was about to lead them across the Jordan into the promised land. Moses relays all the amazing ways God will prosper Israel in the future… but only if they do a certain thing. Then, he relays a series of somewhere around 100 horrible curses that will come upon these people whom God loves… if they do not do one thing.
What was this one thing that would bring these curses? In Deuteronomy 28 Moses speaks this warning as though it had already happened or would happen. Here is the reason:
Deuteronomy 28:47 “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things”.
If the time came that they found their joy in the prosperity of things that God had given them and no longer found their joy in God and serving him… this evil would come. God is serious about us serving him with joy. God knows the things of the world cannot truly bring us joy… We were created by our Creator in such a fashion that we only find our joy in authentic worship and service to him… And it is a joy that supersedes every other promise of satisfaction in the Universe by an un-fathomed degree.
Notice also after Paul says to rejoice, in Philippians 4:5 he says: Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; All these things Paul is saying makes perfect sense (reasonableness) and we should share them with everyone. There is a reasonableness to Jesus coming, living a perfect life, dying for our sins, giving all who trust him his righteousness, there is reasonableness to Jesus rising from the grave, giving us power over sin in life and soon returning to raise us up incorruptible no longer under the effects of sin in any fashion. There are a zillion good and solid reasons to rejoice in the Lord… In other words it all makes sense. Let everyone know that the Gospel is not a high in the sky pipe dream, but instead tell them about the all true good sense reasons to rejoice in the Lord!
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Most or many have some concept of what prayer is… It is meant only for those who have or desire fellowship with God. It’s communication with God in spirit and truth. Through prayer we thank, praise and worship God. Prayer is also supplication, or the act of asking for something humbly and earnestly. For example by prayer we make requests to God for our selves and for others to know God on a deeper level. We also pray for daily needs in relation to our physical life; needs in our body… for food, shelter, recovery from illness and more. We pray for ourselves and others relationships with one another and with God.
Yes, we pray all these things for ourselves and others but that is not the core reason for our supplications. Foundationally we are actually praying all these things for the glory of God. You see, God created us for himself.
Isaiah 43:6-7 I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
And all things are ultimately for his glory.
Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
We don’t pray in order to glorify God by making him more glorious; no, for it is impossible to add anything to his holiness. But rather the end of our prayers… the bottom line of our desire is that more facets of his glory be seen by us and by others and with more and more detail. As we see more of his glory we are being transformed.
2nd Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
What pleases God glorifies God. God is pleased when we see more particulars of his awesomeness. When we see more of who he is in all his splendor. As we see more of who God is we begin to understand more of his character and attributes and the Holy Spirit internalizes his attributes within us and with this transformation comes great joy. Seeing God as beautiful and magnificent leads to real delight and joy. For that is the fashion in which he created us. In that context God is glorified and pleased.
Lets look at the connection between the first and last part of verse 6.
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
We are not to be filled with anxiety but are told to take it all to God with thanksgiving. So as we make request for ourself and others to the end that God be glorified, we are to do it with thanksgiving. This implies that we are to have faith God will be glorified in our prayers. Gods grace is not only given to us at Salvation… and not only does it sustain us in the present… but as our initial coming to Christ was by grace through faith, we can look to the future in faith for Gods grace to sustain us and not ourselves. He has promised this for all his children. It is for his mission and our good and he is glorified in giving this grace to us. He wants us to trust him for it.
So far in this chapter Paul has taught us to: Rejoice! Share the reason for your joy with everyone! Don’t worry, pray to God with faith and be thankful for his future grace!
We already spoke about the amazing joy God gives us and how we are to rejoice always. Verse 7 tells us about another gift of grace from God; something that goes right along with joy… Peace.
As we go to verse 7 remember in this final chapter Paul is still supporting the 2 main reasons he wrote this letter to the Philippians. To let them know he loves them and to give them this charge that they stand firm in the Lord.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I don’t know about you but my mind needs guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! So the peace of God guarding my heart would be very helpful in standing firm in the Lord.
And yes it is not just a sense of peace or peace like the world thinks of or peace like we used to know before we came to Christ, but it is actually as verse 7 says “the peace of God”.
Remember we spoke earlier about how God actually imputed his own affections for the Philippians into Paul.
Philippians 1:8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And then we saw how God give us his own joy in John 15:11 and 17:13:
John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
John 17:13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
Now, here in Philippians 4:7 we see God gives us his very own peace… Amazing!
But now, how does God give his peace to us and how does peace guard our hearts and how does it surpass all understanding?
We all know how we first receive Gods peace. It comes through the Cross when we become 100% positionally righteous before God. But now Paul tells us how God ordained that we receive his peace practically on a daily basis amid a broken world. Here’s what he says:
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
So, practically we are to practice these things every day. If we do our heart will be guarded by the peace of God. If not our heart will be open to all kinds of attacks from the darkness.
As verse 8 and 9 say, we are to think and dwell and ponder good things. Again Paul reminds them the times they have seen these attributes of God being worked out in his own life. He names a number of examples of these virtues; things that edify and things that build up. Following this way of thinking does not mean we are simply to surround ourselves with self affirmation as though we are ok. Paul did not send them a self-help book on positive thinking. And we are not to seek to edify others in this particular way either… like the world does which supports them in their sin. Good things like honor and justice, purity and truth shine the light of adoration on God who is the source of all good, not on ourselves. If God grants us to see these great glories of himself… If he quickens our hearts to desire these attributes of God like a great treasure… if we then meditate and ponder, internalize and practice them… then we will be transformed. (See 2nd Corinthians 3:18) And Gods peace will be with us and guard our hearts from fear and doubt and despair. When we ponder the grace of God and who he is… when we practice what we see in him, then his peace guards us against feelings of guilt, hopelessness, selfishness, loneliness and oh so much more.
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.
Paul points out a that it has been a while when he says “at length”. It seems to have taken the Philippians a while to check in on him concerning some of the trials he had endured since he had heard from them last. We know after he first shared the gospel with them and moved on they kept up with him and seem to have sent him care packages even for a while. We’ll see that in verses 15 and 16. But here he acknowledges that even now their hearts have been concerned for him… I suspect they had prayed for him. However it seems they had not run across anyone who was going to Rome and could drop off a note to Paul in prison. It may be that though they did not have convenient opportunity, still they did not go out of their way to seek to contact him. Whatever the case, Paul was overjoyed that he had heard from them again!
This is convicting to me. How many people I love and have prayed for have slowly began to fade off my radar. It may be good to go ahead and “at length” make some follow ups; especially for those whom you may have influenced to come to know or grow in the Lord as was the case of Paul with many of the Philippians.
But Paul was not asking for help. This part of the letter was not Paul centered. His goal was for the Philippians; for their spiritual growth and well being in Christ. Unfortunately today we see so many who claim to know Christ more interested in the world than in growing in the knowledge of the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Paul wanted the Philippians to trust God more and more and rejoice in him more and more. He wanted them to rest in Christ and have all Gods true satisfaction and joys even in their day by day trials by seeing more and more of how beautiful God really is.
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.
It is surly a true theological truth that through Christ we can do anything God desires us to do. It is a good truth to meditate on. In fact Paul says exactly what he means to say very clearly in verse 13.
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Yes! Paul could be victorious through Jesus. But consider the context in relation to the previous two verses. Paul is saying he will be victorious, yes!, but this victory will come through enduring and persevering and standing firm in the Lord to the end through all kinds of difficulties and trials. Of course all 4 chapters in Philippians are filled with words of encouragement for joy in Christ and love for one another as we live for him. And so it seems clear to me that Paul is saying that he can do all of those things… he can accomplish his mission in Christ with love and joy no matter how crazy difficult it becomes... yes no matter what... all things through his God who strengthens him. Paul is thankful that the Philippians have been a help from God in his troubles.
15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.
And so Paul is reminded about how the Philippians have been used by God in Pauls life in the past. Paul acknowledges that they have given to him more than once and he considers them partners in the gospel. Paul is not seeking help for his own good here. He seeks them to bear fruit for the gospel in their loving and caring and giving which will support their growth and prove that they abide in Christ.
18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
Paul speaks of having been well supplied spiritually and physically through the Philippians. The gifts not only built up his physical supplies, but they were a fragrant offering pleasing to God thereby glorifying God for the mission of sharing the Gospel. This happens through us when we joyfully give to local and foreign evangelical and mission needs. We fulfill their physical needs and we supply them with funds or supplies or manpower to help them share the Gospel to every groups of peoples in the world. So then Paul was well supplied to what end? To keep going forward physically in his body so that the mission Jesus gave him might advance and God be glorified.
Next we see how God will make the Philippians well supplied also… and so again we will ask: To what end?
19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
God wants to give us his joy. God wants to give us his peace. God wants to supply our needs. Everything is for Gods glory, and yet we get the mercy and the grace and an eternal lifetime of benefits.
As Paul was well supplied by God through the Philippians giving and by every other means God provided to fulfill Paul’s mission to win many to Christ while walking with joy and peace amid him being stoned, the beatings, being shipwrecked 3 times, the abandonment, hunger, nakedness along with all the other trials he faced… as God was glorified through this; so God would provide for the Philippians and he would receive glory in their lives as they walked in a broken world that was rivaling their cause.
We see the way God receives glory in this way in the lives of the Macedonians as well.
2nd Corinthians 8:1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—
(So their extreme poverty and all their trouble and trials were accompanied by an abundance of joy. Wow! Thats cool. That was the grace of God upon them. For most people money and affliction define their happiness. But these people found their delight in Jesus and his mission. It takes a miracle for that to happen but that is exactly what happens when Gods people walk with him. Even when the world is crashing in around them they joyfully minister to others with a wealth of generosity.
It is abundantly clear that God blessed them in ways so that they could be generous to others for the good of his kingdom…
This favor from God was not to instill passion for their own worldly gain but for Gods glory. The same spiritual truth applies in the way we pray and what we ask for. In this next text James implies that if they made request for Gods glory they would receive.
James 4:3 says "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions”.
This is in agreement and in accordance with many other texts. For example the Apostle John gives this same context to believers being well supplied in how we are blessed but how it is ultimately for Gods glory and his mission. 1st John 3:22, 1st John 5:14-15… and John 14:13. And how about John 15:7, John 15:16, John 16:24
Continuing with how and why God blessed the poor and afflicted Macedonians in:
2nd Corinthians 8:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
This amazing truth has filtered through my hearts grasp most of my life, not truly rejoicing in it or claiming it as I should. God who cares for and feeds the birds of the air; he who clothes the lilies of the field does so all for his glory and awesomeness. This one also will supply all our needs so that we though poor, afflicted and unable to offer anything good or worthwhile, now through faith in Christ “will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Paul closes by reiterating his greeting in Philippians 1:1-2. This supports the two reasons he was writing; namely that the Philippians were unified in the love of God not only with Christ but with Paul, one another and all believers. This love, this unity is for the glory of God and God himself created us in a fashion that only in him will we experience unfathomed joy delight and peace for eternity.
Pauls final sentence mentions his prayer for grace upon their spirits. This also was mentioned in Philippians 1:2. Gods gift of righteousness is not of ourselves, it is a gift of God. This is the unity we all share in Christ. It is of grace that God holds us and keeps us and works in us to will and to do… He was the one who awakened us. He is the one who called us out of darkness. And he is the one who grows us and shows us more and more of his glory. As we realize our treasure in him is more valuable than we first perceived (though we did see him as greater than everything)… we are increasingly able to worship and find delight in him to greater and greater extremes as we are seeing him more beautiful as he really is.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
It is therefore then Gods grace that not only saves and sustains but also grows us unto Spirit quickened good works. That is the reason Paul was “well supplied” and that is why he says in Philippians 4:19-20 “…God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! 2nd Corinthians 8:15