11th October 2018

Philippians: Week 10 (Thursday, October 11 2018)


Chapter 4: 1-9


Chapter 4

Paul appeals for a steady faith and for unity 4:1-3

v1 So then, my dear brothers and sisters, whom I love and I want very much to see. You are my joy and my crown. Continue to follow the Lord. v2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree with each other in the *Lord. v3 And you too, my true companion, I ask you to help these women. They worked hard with me to spread the gospel. So did Clement and all my other companions in the work. Their names are in the book of life.


Verse 1 There are many enemies of the cross. But Christians can look forward to Christ’s return. So, they must be strong. Paul shows his great love for the Christians at Philippi. He calls them his ‘dear brothers and sisters’ and his ‘joy and crown’. He had the ‘joy’ of knowing that they were Christians. The ‘crown’ was not the royal crown of kings. The Greek word means a ring of leaves. They put it on the head of an athlete who succeeded in a race. Paul’s reward for all his efforts will be his Christian friends at Philippi. The ‘crown’ was also a sign of honour for guests at a feast (a special meal). The Christians at Philippi will be Paul’s sign of honour at God’s ‘feast’ in heaven.

Verse 2 Euodia and Syntyche were two well-known Christian women in Philippi. Either on his first visit or later they had both worked hard with Paul to spread the gospel. For some reason they had quarrelled. It was a serious matter, as it would make the witness of the Christians there weak. Paul shows how much he cares for both of them by appealing to each woman by name. He wants them to agree ‘in the Lord’, as Christians should.

Verse 3 We have translated the Greek word ‘syzygos’ by ‘companion’. It means someone who works with another person. It is similar to the word for a yoke. When animals worked together, people joined them with a yoke. ‘Syzygos’ might be a man’s name. But we do not know of any other examples. He must help the two women. Then his actions will prove that his name is suitable for him. But perhaps ‘Syzygos’ is not a man’s name. Then, we do not know whom Paul meant. But it was someone well-known in Philippi whom people respected. Writers have suggested Epaphroditus, Timothy or Luke. Luke had been a close companion of Paul on his first visit to Philippi (Acts 16:12-17). He may have stayed there until Paul’s return some years later (Acts 20:2-5). ‘Clement’ was a very common name and we know nothing about this person. The ‘other companions’ may have been too many to mention. But God knew who they were. Paul says that their names are in the book of life. The idea of a book like this comes several times in the Bible. (See, for example, Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20 and Revelation 13:8.) In this book of life, God keeps a record of those people who are loyal to him.


Paul encourages the Christians and he gives them instructions 4:4-9

v4 Rejoice in your friendship with the Lord. I say it again, ‘Rejoice!’ v5 Show a gentle attitude towards everyone. The Lord is near. v6 Do not worry about anything. But tell God about everything. And ask God for what you need. And give him thanks. v7 And God’s peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. That peace is far beyond anything that human beings can understand. v8 And now, Christian friends, fill your minds with true, noble, right, pure and lovely things and with things that we should praise. v9 Practise what you have learned from me, in my words and actions. And the Lord who gives peace will be with you.


Verse 4 To rejoice is the attitude of Paul (Philippians 1:1-4; 2:7; 2:18; 3:1). He tells the Christians at Philippi to rejoice. Whatever their circumstances, Paul and his friends can have joy, because the Lord Jesus is always near them.

Verse 5 Christians should behave towards other people with mercy, patience and understanding love.

‘The Lord is near’ might mean:

1          The Lord is always close to them.

2          The Lord knows everything that a Christian does.

3          The Lord is coming again soon.

These words encourage Christians to remember the love with which God deals with them. They hope that God will deal with them with sympathy. So they should be gentle towards other people who make mistakes.

Verse 6 ‘The Lord is near’ might also introduce the words ‘Do not worry about anything’. These words will remind Christians that the Lord is always with them. And they will meet him when he returns. Christians should pray about everything. They should pray:

1          that God will forgive them for the past

2          about what they need now, both for the body and for the spirit

3          for God to guide them in the future.

‘God’s love desires what is best for us. His wisdom knows what is best. His power can cause what is best for us to happen.’ Every prayer should include thanks. We should be grateful that God wants to listen. We should believe that he will give us the best answer.

Verse 7 The result of prayer is that we will have God’s peace in our hearts. God’s peace will be like a soldier who is on guard duty in our hearts. The peace that God gives will protect our thoughts and desires. That is because God has united us to Christ Jesus. This peace is ‘far beyond anything that human *beings can understand’. Human people can never produce this peace, however much they try. Good ideas will never free a Christian from worry in the way that God’s peace does. It is also far beyond anything that we can understand. God is able to do so much more than we could ever ask. He is able to do so very much more than we could even think’ (Ephesians 3:20). Christ ‘loves us more than anyone can ever really know’ (Ephesians 3:19).

Verses 8, 9 Paul gives a list of what Christians should think about. Thoughts like these will help them to live in a way that pleases God:

1          ‘true’ things. The Greek word can mean genuine, or free from error. Christians should avoid anything that is false and disappointing.

2          ‘Noble’. Christians will concentrate on serious matters. Some things seem attractive, but they are of little value. They are not worth thinking about. And they are not worth spending time on.

3          ‘Right’. Christians should do what God wants. They will always deal with other people fairly.

4          ‘Pure’. In the world, many people think, speak and act in a nasty way. Christians have to live in that society. But a Christian’s thoughts and actions should be so clean that they are suitable for God to know about.

5          ‘Lovely’. Those who are kind to other people will receive love in return. This word can mean things that are beautiful.

6          ‘things that we should praise’. This ‘praise’ does not mean ‘to speak well of’. The Greek word means words that are suitable for God to hear.

7          Paul had taught the Christians at Philippi about Jesus. He had also given them a good model, by the way that he lived. So they must put his words and actions into practice. Then they will have God’s peace.

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