Philippians 4:1-23 - Outline of Philippians (Book Notes menu page)
1. Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown,
so stand fast in the Lord, [my] dearly beloved.
2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche,
that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
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.
4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: [and] again I say, Rejoice.
Although the Philippian church was a model of what a mature church should be,
there was a point of division within the congregation, between two women. We do not know the nature or severity of their disagreement. But any matter that breaks the fellowship of believers is serious, since it grieves the Holy Spirit, and hinders His work.
  • Euodias - meaning "fragrant" or "prosperous."
  • Syntyche - meaning "together in fortune."
Their names have the ring of those who are joyfully joined together in serving the Lord. But the reality was that they were not speaking to one another.
Paul addresses this situation and these two women, with love
and with the whole weight of his letter...
  • my brethren...- Paul has these sisters in mind also.
    He does not take sides or play favorites.
    He addressed both of these women, with the love that he held for every member of the Philippian church family:
  • dearly beloved {GK=agapatos}-
    You, for whom I willingly pour myself out, in self-sacrificing love.
    He addresses them in this way, twice in one verse, in case they missed it the first time.
  • longed for (see Php 1:3-8)...- Paul's longing was not only to see them again,
    but that his spiritual children would grow up into what Christ desired for them. His love was not merely the natural love of friend to friend, but the love of Christ which welled up within the heart of this under-shepherd for those whom the Shepherd had committed to his care.
  • my joy and crown...-
    These children of God were Paul's joy, and their coming to maturity was all the reward that He desired, at Christ's return.
Having expressed his love for these people, including the two arguing women, Paul, now, speaks to the problem:
  • so stand fast in the Lord...-
    "so..." (ie., "in this manner") 'persevere or continue in your walk with the Lord.' The 'therefore,' sends us back to the prior chapters (eg. 1:27), and especially to ch. 3, and the goal of the Christian's life: to press toward the purpose for which Christ has gotten hold of me (3:12-14), with the humility of the mind of Christ, which Paul demonstrated in his own life (3:15-17), continually aware that our hearts and circumstances, presently tainted by the flesh, will be transformed at Christ's return (3:20,21).
  • I beseech {GK=parakaleo, come alongside to speak}... (v.2) -
    Paul directs this term of personal comfort and counsel, to each woman individually. 'With loving concern, I am speaking to you Euodias. With loving concern, I am speaking to you Syntyche...'
  • be of the same mind. - He does not say 'of one mind,'
    for he does not merely want them to reach agreement in their dispute. "Be of the same mind..." ie., of that mind which has been the subject of this epistle (2:5). If they would both have the humility of the mind of Christ, agreement and harmony on other matters would soon follow (2:2-4).
But reaching the goal of harmonious Christ likeness is difficult, when brothers or sisters have long been pulling in opposite directions. So, Paul also speaks to the church...
and I intreat {GK=erotao, make request (usually directed to an equal, or peer)} thee also...-
The one addressed is a 'true yokefellow' of the apostle. Perhaps, Epaphroditus (cp. 2:25), who was returning to Philippi with this letter, presumably to resume his work as a pastor there. Another co-laborer is mentioned: Clement {meaning: mild or merciful), who according to tradition was bishop of Rome, near the close of the first century.
help those {lit., 'the same'} women...- They needed assistance in coming together.
'help' {GK=sullambano, 'take hold of' together, bring together}. Several of the words used in v.3, feature the prefix "sun-," meaning 'together.' (The prefix form varies slightly to fit the spelling of the word to which it is attached.)
  • help - {GK=sullambano, bring them together}
  • yokefellow {GK=suzugos, yoked together}
  • laboured with me {GK=sunathleo, we strove alongside one another, together on the same team}
  • my fellow labourers {GK=sunergos, we toiled together}
For those who are together in serving the Lord, minor differences fade in importance. But Paul adds something even more profound, by which believers are bound together:
whose names are in the book of life...-
Those who are in Christ, and in whom Christ lives, are joined together by His eternal life within them. Col 1:27; Luk 10:20; Mat 7:14; Rev 20:15
Rejoice in the Lord alway... again I say, Rejoice. -
This is the way ch. 3 opens (Php 3:1).
What is the source of this joy? Christ, His righteousness, my relationship to Him.
  • The things which I once grasped as my rights and credentials, but which were totally unacceptable before God, have been displaced by the righteousness of Christ, a righteousness which is totally the work of God, not my own. (3:7-9)
  • The 'self" which used to raise its proud head, is being conformed to Christ's death. (3:10)
  • His righteousness, and the transforming power of His resurrection secures the realization of His purposes in my life. (3:11)
How is this joy attained? (3:12-14)
  • "Forgetting {setting aside} those things which are behind..."
    (my foolish self-righteousness, my shameful failures, my disharmony with a brother or sister)...
  • "...reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
    But contrary to fleshly thinking, this reaching up (toward the high calling) requires me to stoop down, as Jesus did, to humble myself for the sake of others. You cannot do this Euodias and Syntyche, if your attention is on your pet peeve. You must find your joy in the Lord.
5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord [is] at hand.
6 Be careful for nothing;
but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,
shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Let your moderation {GK=epieikes, forbearance, sweet reasonableness} be known unto all...-
This is the opposite of doing things 'through strife and vainglory' (2:3).
Again, Euodias and Syntyche are encouraged to set aside their differences, and to look to the Lord, in anticipation of His soon coming, and in assurance of His present care for our concerns...
...the Lord is at hand...-
  • His coming is just around the corner (3:20- 4:1). He will set things right. Jam 5:7-9
  • He sees and knows your need. Therefore...
Be careful {ie., anxious} for nothing, in everything... (note the contrast)
  • by prayer - general worship and communication with God.
  • supplication - presentation of specific requests, usually for another's need (trans. 'prayer' in Php 1:4,19).
  • with thanksgiving - At the time of making the request, in anticipation of the answer (whatever it may be), being thankful that the Lord hears and answers according to His wisdom and will.
  • let your requests {ie., petitions, desires} be made known unto God.
The peace of God... - The path of prayer moves quickly from anxiety to peace
          (for those who carry their concerns to the Lord, and hand them over to Him.)
  • ...passeth all understanding...
    • 'passeth' is GK=huperecho, is superior to, is better than, surpasses. (This word is rendered as 'better than' in 2:3, and as 'excellency' in 3:8.)
    • 'understanding' is GK=nous, mind, thought, reason, expectation.
    • This peace belongs to those who entrust their needs to the Lord in prayer (cp. Eph 3:20).
  • ...shall keep {ie., guard} your hearts {ie., your inner being, eg., Php 1:7}...
    and minds {GK=noema, thoughts, mental perceptions}... through Christ Jesus.
    To have the 'peace of God,' you must first have 'peace with God' (Rom 5:1,2). But the peace of God does not come automatically to every believer. We must learn to commit everything to the Lord (Psa 46:10). Only then, will we be 'anxious for nothing.'
       There is a close relationship between (a) the humility characteristic of the 'mind of Christ' and (b) the ability to cast all your cares upon the Lord (1Pet 5:5-7).
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.
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.
Finally... think on these things.
The word 'think' {GK=logizomai, reason, reckon} is not the word for 'mind,' used so frequently in this epistle, but it is the focus and out working of that mind. See this word in 1Cor 13:5.
whatsoever things...- The characteristics listed are the perfections of Christ.
It is well for us to meditate upon Him, and also to reckon (ie., reconcile our account) upon Him, who is:
  • true...- GK=alethes, lit., not hidden, not concealed.
  • honest...- venerable, honorable.
  • just...- judicially right.
  • pure...- holy, sacred.
  • lovely...- GK=prophiles, lit., toward friendliness, gracious.
  • of good report...- GK=eufemos, well spoken of, reputable.
  • virtue...- GK=arete, valor (having strength and courage).
  • praise...- GK=epainos, laudation, praise worthiness, commendability.
'if there be any...'- These things are in Christ without limit. But within believers, not so much.
This phrase occurs in Php 2:1, where the question is: Are these things in you? If so, you are to relate to your brothers in the humble love of Christ. Php 2:1-5
     Here (v.8), in the context of a disagreement between two believers (v.2), the question seems to be: Do you see any of these things, which reflect the character of our Lord, in the life of your brother or sister? If so, focus on those commendable things, rather than on minor divisive matters.
Those things which ye have learned... received... heard... and seen in me...-
If we practice the humble mind of Christ, which Paul taught in word and by example, "the God of peace shall be with you." That is, after all, the essence of communion: brothers and sisters gathered together, with Christ (who is our Peace) in the midst (Eph 2:14; Mat 18:19,20).
Review -
Paul's letter to the Philippians has been full of joy in the mutual relationship which he shared with his spiritual children, who were growing in the faith. He and they had "fellowship in the gospel," as they carried each other in their hearts, bore one another's burdens in prayer, shared the work of making Christ known, and also the sorrows of persecution for His name's sake.
     In this letter, Paul admonished the Philippian believers to live according to the mind of Christ, who humbled Himself in submission to the Father's will, and for the benefit of others. They were also to have the mind of the Father, which is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ in everything. Timothy, Epaphroditus and Paul himself were examples demonstrating what this kind of life looks like.
     In the closing chapter, Paul applied these examples, and his teaching concerning humility of heart, and purpose of life, to a division which had arisen between two women in the church. They were to remember that they were serving the same Lord, and to bring their differences to Him in prayer, in order to receive the peace of God. Furthermore, as they viewed each other, they were to focus, not on their differences, but rather on the likeness of Christ, which He was developing in each of them.
Now, in the closing verses of the epistle, Paul sends a "Thank You" note to the Philippian church...
10. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly,
that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again;
wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak in respect of want:
for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:
every where and in all things I am instructed
both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
Paul's "Thank You" note is in two sections:
  1. Paul's Contentment as the Recipient of their gift (Php 4:10-14)
  2. God's Supply for the Givers (4:15-20)
now at the last.. your care of me hath flourished again...
...wherein ye also were careful {GK=phroneo, mindful}... but ye lacked opportunity... (v.10) -
The Philippian church had supported Paul's ministry in the past. But they had lost track of him for two years, during his imprisonments at Jerusalem, and Caesarea. They had known nothing of his appeal to Ceasar, and his shipwreck enroute to Rome, until after his arrival there.
     When they learned where he was being held as a prisoner, they sent Epaphroditus with a financial gift, and to offer personal assistance to the aging apostle. So, their care for him had once again flourished {ie., blossomed, revived}.
     Paul rejoiced to receive their attention... but note that his joy was not in the gift, but "in the Lord" (v.10).
not that I speak in respect of want {GK=husteresis, poverty, penury} (v.11) -
His joy was not due to the relief from financial stress.
for I have learned {GK=manthano} in whatsoever state I am... be content {GK=autoarkes, self sufficient}-
The word 'learned' can also be translated 'discipled.' Christ had taught him (Mat 11:28-30).
     Contentment is found when one seeks nothing for oneself, but only the things of Christ (Mat 6:31-34; 1Tim 6:6-9), and when one is fully satisfied with such things as He supplies (Heb 13:5, where "content" is GK=arkeo, sufficient}.
     Paul was not 'sufficient in himself.' Rather, he rested in confident dependence upon God, regardless of outward conditions. Being sure that God knows His servant's need, the servant can be sure that whatever God provides is sufficient for the situation. Therefore, Paul and Silas could sing in the Philippian jail at midnight (Acts 16:25; Psa 119:54-57; Psa 73:25-28; Psa 119:65,71).
I know both how to be abased {GK=tapeino, to be humbled; See this word in Php 2:8.}...
...and to abound {GK=perisseuo, to overflow, to be filled to excess;
see this word in Php 1:9 re: love; and in 1:26 re: rejoicing}
...every where and in all things {lit., "all and in all"} ["In everything and in all things..." (YLT)]
I am instructed {GK=mueo, initiated, given instruction through intimate acquaintance}...-
Paul had learned this lesson, not through theory or book learning, but in personal experience.
...both to be full {to be well fed} and to be hungry {to be famished}...
...both to abound {GK=perisseuo, v.12a} and to suffer need {GK=hustereo, to be in poverty, want v.11a}
I can do {GK=ischuo, to prevail, to have effective strength in} all things {ie., every situation}...
...through {lit., in} Christ who strengthens {GK=endunamuo, empowers} me... (v.13) -
  • It is not I, but Christ. I can do nothing apart from Him (Joh 15:4-8).
    It is not merely that He helps me to do what I need to do, but that Christ, living within me, empowers His servant to serve effectively, regardless of all contrary forces and circumstances. The branch abiding in the vine is fruitful, regardless of weather and pests, only because the vine is full of life. The branch has no sufficiency in itself.
  • I can do all things... - All things? This is not a license to 'do my own thing,' but to bear fruit to the glory of the Father (Joh 15:7,8), ie., to do all things that are according to His will.
Nothwithstanding... (v.14) -
Even though Paul's rejoicing was "in the Lord" (who had proven Himself sufficient in every aspect of his need), rather than in the gift from the Philippians, Paul commended them for their ministry to him. have well done, that ye did communicate {GK=sugkoinonia, had fellowship together,
were partakers together} with me in my affliction {ie., trouble, distress}...
15 Now ye Philippians know also, that
in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia,
no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
17 Not because I desire a gift:
but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
18 But I have all, and abound:
I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things [which were sent] from you,
an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
19 But my God shall supply all your need
according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
20. Now unto God and our Father [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Paul turns now to assure those, who supported his ministry, of God's Supply for them: the beginning of the gospel (ie., in the early days of its proclamation)
...when I departed from Macedonia... even in Thessalonica... -
Paul recalls again the history of the Philippians' fellowship with him in the gospel, from the time that they had first believed. In Philippi, Paul had been beaten and thrown into prison.
     After the city rulers expelled him from Philippi, he had moved on to Thessalonica (see Acts 16:40; 17:1-5), where he again encountered severe opposition. Yet, the Philippian believers were not ashamed to support him. More than once, they had sent financial and practical assistance, thereby enabling his ministry to continue in that place and beyond (1The 2:9; 2Cor 11:8,9).
...not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.-
Paul did not mention their past support in order to solicit more financial aid, with this letter. Rather, he was rejoicing in the maturity of his spiritual children, who had gone out of their way to further his ministry of proclaiming the gospel, both in years past, and again more recently.
...I have all {or, I have received all} and abound...
...having received {or, having accepted} of Epaphroditus...
...the things which were sent from you, [were] ...a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
Paul did greatly appreciate their gift, which had lifted him out of a state of need into a state of abundance (v.12). But more than that, God noticed the sacrificial nature of their gift, and He would reward them. God shall supply {GK=pleroo, make full} all your need...
...according to His riches {GK=ploutos, fullness, abundance} in glory by {GK=en, in} Christ Jesus.-
How did Paul know this? Because he himself had learned, that God would supply all his need. God's boundless provision is available to all who are in Christ Jesus, for in Him, we have become the children of God, who loves and cares for His own, for His own name's sake.
Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
These words are more than a verbal benediction. They reflect the reality within the lives of God's children, who live to make their Father's glory known. Php 1:9-11; Eph 3:19-21
21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus.
The brethren which are with me greet you.
22 All the saints salute you,
chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.
Personal Greetings conveyed from the believers in Rome to those in Philippi.
  • Each believer is a 'saint,' ie., a holy one, set apart for God, by means of their relationship with His Son. Those who are "in Christ" are "accepted in the Beloved" (Eph 1:6,7).
  • All true believers, being children of God, are 'brethren.'
  • Salute... greet... salute {GK=aspazomai, greet, embrace} - The term can be used as a general greeting, showing civility and respect (eg., Mat 5:47), or as an expression of a deeper relationship (eg., Acts 20:1, Paul 'embraced' the disciples at Ephesus; Rom 16:16, 'salute' with an holy kiss).
23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you all. Amen.
Closing Benediction -
How much we need His Grace, which is available for 'all' who are in our Lord Jesus Christ. Our deficiencies, both individually and corporately, can only be met through that which He supplies. Joh 1:16; Php 4:11-13; 2Cor 13:14

This concludes the study in Philippians.
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