Background on Philippians

Philippi was the first city on European soil where a Christian church was founded by Paul (on his second missionary journey see Acts 16).  Timothy, Silas, and Luke were present with him.  Lydia is converted and Paul and Silas were imprisoned following the riot. 

On the third journey, Paul visits again (Acts 20; 2 Corinthians 2 and 2 Corinthians 7).  Paul loved this church.  It comprised primarily of Gentiles who were very poor, yet generous.

Paul writes this letter because he received a gift from Philippi brought over by Epaphroditus.  He sent Epaphroditus back after an illness and thanked the church for her generosity.

The leading thought of the letter is joy and gratitude. The word rejoice (or similar words) appears sixteen times in this short letter.

This letter was written during Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome (60 A.D.).

Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice everywhere and under all circumstances!

Again, this is the keynote of the letter. To rejoice is an imperative.To rejoice is to be understood as a command just like any other. Not circumstances decide whether there will be joy, but in the Lord, in living fellowship with Him, the believer can and must rejoice under all circumstances.

Philippians 4:5 – Let your goodwill be seen to all.

The Lord is at hand can be understood in time and space. Thus, we can remain calm because He is with us (Immanuel).  But, even more importantly, the Lord is coming soon. Paul used the word engus with this particular ambiguity in mind.

Philippians 4:6 – No anxiety!

(See Matthew 6:25-34). Paul gives yet another imperative or command. The most accurate translation would be stop worrying! Paul in prison and the Philippians had ample reason for anxiety since one was in prison and the others were threatened with persecution and probably poor. Hence, when he tells them to stop worrying, to be overly anxious for nothing, leaving them no exceptions, it is not because he makes light of the troubles which they face, but because he knows that God is greater than all their troubles.

The cure for anxiety is prayer to God and commitment of our way unto the Lord.

Proseuca is commonly used for prayer in general as invocation of God, while deasis denotes supplication, the prayer of want and need. In other words, it can be translated “in everything in adoration and entreaty (earnest request or plead) with thanksgiving.”

Philippians 4:7

Paul is not talking about the peace with God, or an inward peace of the soul which comes from God. Instead, he is referring to the tranquility of God’s own eternal being, the peace which God himself has, the calm serenity that characterizes his very nature.

“passes all understanding” can mean that no human mind can grasp or fathom or comprehend the greatness and fullness and the glory of the peace which God gives. In connection with verse 6, however, it probably means that the peace which God gives excels and surpasses all our own intellectual calculations and considerations, all our contemplations and premeditated ideas of how to get rid of our cares-and which after all cannot completely remove our faint-heartedness and worry, and restore peace and calm to our minds. What God gives, surpasses all that we ask or think.

The peace of God will keep watch over and guard hearts and minds-the world of affection and thought-against worries and temptations towards anxiety; will keep watch over heart and mind so that nothing can cause unrest and discord.

Word study on Philippians 4:4-7

Philippians 4:4

Cai,rete verb imper pres act 2nd per pl

[UBS] cai,rw (fut. carh,somai ; aor. pass. evca,rhn, inf. carh/nai) rejoice, be glad;  cai/re, cai,rete, cai,rein greetings, etc. (of salutations)

In other words, caipete could be translated “Keep on being delighted or rejoicing in the Lord.” Daily, then we need to take great pleasure and enjoy the Lord; we need to be delighted or rejoice.”

We are to rejoice in the Lord.  Not on the Lord, or rejoice of the knowledge of Christ.  No, we are to delight ourselves in the Lord.

We need to keep on being delighted always– pa,ntote (pantote) which means at all times. See also Philippians 3:1.

To emphasize this important concept, Paul repeats himself again: “Again I will say (aorist past tense) rejoice!

Philippians 4:5

evpieikh,j (epieikes) means gentle, just and fair, forbearing.  It is also used for patient or tolerant.

Notes:  (1) Or, at hand (a) 1Corinthians 16:22 mg.; Hebrews 10:37; James 5:8f.

It is an entirely different word than Jesus uses for gentle.  In the context, perhaps epieikhvs is best understood as patient.  Let your patient spirit be known to all.  This word is in contrast to a anxious spirit.  In the face of difficulties and trials, our patient and calm spirit can be known to all.

gnwsqh,tw verb imper aor pass 3rd persong

 [UBS] ginw,skw (fut. gnw,somai ; aor. e;gnwn, impv. gnw/qi, gnw,tw, subj. 3 sg. gnw/|  and gnoi/, inf. gnw/nai, ptc. gnou,j ; pf. e;gnwka ; plpf. evgnw,kein ; aor. pass.  evgnw,sqhn ; fut. pass. gnwsqh,somai) know, have knowledge of (of sexual relations Matthew1:25; Luke 1:34); find out, learn, understand; perceive, discern; to have knowledge;  acknowledge, recognize; impv. be very certain, remember.

The word gnosko connotes an intimate knowledge of someone.  In Matthew, the word is used in sexual relations.  God doesn’t want you to have the appearance or façade of calmness or gentleness, but instead for all persons to be able to inspect your life and discover a gentleness that they cannot explain except for the presence of the living Lord.

This gentleness should be known to every or all men. In other words, everyone who inspects your life should find you the same.

The Lord is near. The word evggu,j means near, close to; on the verge of . The Lord is on the verge of. He is about to come again!

Philippians 4:6

merimna/ verb imper pres act 2nd per pl [UBS] merimna,w be anxious, worry about; care for, be concerned about . It is the present active tense.  Therefore, it is do not continue to worry about anything.  In contrast, in everything . . . by prayer -proseuch/| noun dat fem sing [UBS] proseuch,, h/j f prayer; place of prayer (Acts 16.13, Acts 16:16) and supplication de,hsij (deesis) Meaning: a need, entreaty

Origin: from 1189a

Usage: entreaties(2), petition(3), prayer(6), prayers(6), supplication(1).

With thanksgiving- euvcaristi,aj noun acc fem pl OR noun gen fem sing

[UBS] euvcaristi,a, aj f thanksgiving, thanks; gratitude, thankfulness

It is important to note the Pauline trilogy.  Thus, thanksgiving in a given situation is the most important aspect. We can look for reasons to be thankful in all situations.  In the Holocaust museum the guide stated, “The question is not why God allowed this, but thanksgiving that He stopped it before all the Jews were annihilated.”

Let your request- aivth,mata noun nom neut pl [UBS] ai;thma, toj n request; demand   be known to God.

Philippians 4:7

and the peace of God.  <1515> eivrh,nh  (eirene)

Meaning: (none)

Origin: of unc. der., perh. from eiro (to join): lit. or fig. peace, by impl.  welfare

Usage: peace(90), undisturbed*(1).

Notes: (1) Lit., mind (a) Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27; Philippians 4:9; Colossians 3:15 (b) 1 Peter 1:5 (c) 2 Corinthians 10:5 (d) Philippians 1:1; Philippians 4:19, Philippians 4:21

And the peace of God which surpasses- u`pere,cousa verb part pres act nom fem sing

[UBS] u`pere,cw be of more value than, be better than, surpass t`o. u`Å something of much more value Philippians 3.8); govern, rule, have power over

This peace is of greater value than anything that you can comprehend-nou/n noun acc masc sing

[UBS] nou/j, noo,j, noi<, nou/n m mind, thought, reason; attitude, intention, purpose;understanding, discernment

It is beyond what your mind can comprehend. This peace (John 14:27) will guard- frourh,sei verb ind fut act 3rd per sing

[UBS] froure,w guard; keep watch over, protect; hold prisoner, keep (someone)locked up as a prisoner

Keep you locked up so that no one can let you go.

Rob Jackson is the Pastor of Central Baptist Church, Decatur.

Rob Jackson
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