Peace and contentment. Sounds like two things just about all of us wish we could have in life. The final chapter division of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a beautiful reminder that Christians can have that peace and contentment. We last left off with Paul explaining what an authentic disciple is and is not, that a Christian’s highest loyalty is to Christ, and the transformation of our bodies will be conformed to His Glory. Paul begins this last chapter division by encouraging the Philippians to again stand firm in the Lord. Something interesting you might not have noticed is that in verse 2, Euodia and Syntyche are women whom Paul is urging to be of the same mind in the Lord as co-workers of the Gospel. It seems from that statement one can infer there was a disagreement between these two. The footnote in my academic Bible also notes that they were likely heads of house churches. It’s an interesting suggestion given the debate within the church of whether women should be preachers or not, if by stating “head of house church” the footnote is meaning they were preachers. Of course there are other chapters that seem to strongly suggest that males are the only ones that are supposed to be preachers in churches (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1). Where do you think Scripture stands on this issue?
Philippians 4 Continued
Nonetheless, Paul praises these women for sharing in his struggle with the gospel, thus commending their importance to the church whether they are preachers in the church or not. All designated roles in the progression of the Gospel of Christ are important. I’ll perhaps consider delving into the topic of women leadership in churches in another article. To continue though, after asking a loyal companion to help these women settle their struggle along with Clement and the other workers whose names are in the book of life, Paul starts giving encouragements to the whole Philippian church. Something to consider before we continue on is those previous verses we just discussed were again verses that aren’t necessarily directly applied to us. It reminds us to be careful readers of Scripture by reading in context in order to not have inaccurate beliefs through misinterpretation of God’s Word. Continuing along, Paul urges the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord always, letting their gentle spirit be known to all men.
chairō (rejoice) – to rejoice, be glad
epieikēs (gentle spirit) – seeming, suitable, equitable, fair, mild, gentle
Make Requests, Have Peace
Paul desires of them with thanksgiving to make their requests known to God, knowing his peace will guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and thus choose not to be anxious. I’ve pondered in reading these verses whether these are not just merely encouragements, but actually commands that Paul is instructing to be obeyed, and thus to not make requests and choose to be anxious would be committing sin. I lean towards yes, but I know it’s hard for people sometimes to choose not to be anxious, so I’ll just leave that as something for you to think about. He continues by instructing the Philippians to ponder things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and praiseworthy. Perhaps insinuating also to not think of things that are opposite to these things, and perhaps the cause of such anxiety he instructs of them not to have for anything. Do you consistently think these things Paul instructs of Christians to have in mind?
Follow the Apostle
Apostle Paul implores them to follow his ways. What they’ve learned, received, heard, and seen from him, the Philippians are told to practice that, and they will have the peace of God. It’s a great reminder of how important it is to look to the Apostles example and instruction with regards to exactly how we as Christians live our faith. He praises the Philippians for having concern and giving support for him through gifts while he was in his trials. Though he’s quick to make clear that he’s content regardless of how much he’s given in his circumstances, knowing that through Him he is strengthened to get through any circumstance. A lot of people make the verse of Paul stating “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” about God granting whatever desires someone has. But as we know as we observed earlier in this book, Paul is in jail, and the previous verses in this chapter reiterated he’s been enduring trials. So this verse should accurately be understood that one can get through all trials through Him who strengthens us. Paul gives us an excellent example in himself of the contentment one should strive to have at all times in their life as he conveys he has it in his current circumstance, and thus validating what he’s teaching about not being anxious and thinking the things he instructed the Philippian Christians to think on. He continues on praising them for their giving that has supplied him enough to continue to succeed for their sake.
Paul closes by comforting in stating that God will provide all their needs, proclaiming glory to God forever, asking them to greet all saints as the saints with him greet them, and that the grace of Christ be with them. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a thought provoking reflection of what good character and dedication to God represents, and like all the other letters to the different churches, provides interesting insights of how the Christian church was conducted in a way that was most honoring to God. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Philippians study, and if you have any thoughts or questions on anything we’ve covered, feel free to leave a response. Peace to all those who are in Christ.