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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Philippians 4

Verse 1

Longed for (επιποθητο). Late and rare verbal adjective (here alone in N.T.) from επιποθεω.

So stand fast (ουτο στηκετε). Present active imperative of στηκω (late present from perfect εστηκα from ιστημ). See Philippians 1:27. They were tempted to defection. Standing firm is difficult when a panic starts.

Verse 2

Euodia (Ευοδιαν). This name means literally "prosperous journey" (ευ, οδος). It occurs in the inscriptions.

Syntyche (Συντυχην). From συντυγχανω, to meet with and so "pleasant acquaintance" or "good-luck." Occurs in the inscriptions and identified with Lydia by some. Klopper suggests that each of these rival women had church assemblies in their homes, one a Jewish-Christian church, the other a Gentile-Christian church. Vincent doubts the great influence of women in Macedonia held by Lightfoot who also suggests that these two were ladies of rank or perhaps deaconesses of the church in Philippi. Schinz suggests that in such a pure church even slight bickerings would make a real disturbance. "It may have been accidental friction between two energetic Christian women" (Kennedy).

Verse 3

True yokefellow (γνησιε συνζυγε). All sorts of suggestions have been made here, one that it was Lydia who is termed Paul's wife by the word συνζυγε. Unfortunately for that view γνησιε is masculine vocative singular. Some have suggested it as a proper name though it is not found in the inscriptions, but the word does occur as an appellative in one. Lightfoot even proposes Epaphroditus, the bearer of the Epistle, certainly a curious turn to take to address him. After all it matters little that we do not know who the peacemaker was.

Help these women (συνλαμβανου αυταις). Present middle imperative of συνλαμβανω, to seize (Matthew 26:55), to conceive (Luke 1:24), then to take hold together with one (associative instrumental case), to help as here (Luke 5:7). "Take hold with them."

They laboured with me (συνηθλησαν μο). First aorist active indicative of συναθλεω (for which see Philippians 1:27) with associative instrumental case (μο).

With Clement also (μετα κα Κλημεντος). There is no evidence that he was Clement of Rome as the name is common.

In the book of life (εν βιβλω ζωης). The only instance of this expression in the N.T. outside of the Apocalypse (Philippians 3:5; Philippians 13:8; Philippians 17:8, etc.). Hence real Christians in spite of their bickerings.

Verse 4

Again I will say (παλιν ερω). Future active indicative of defective verb ειπον.

Rejoice (χαιρετε). Present active imperative as in Philippians 3:1, repeated for emphasis in spite of discouragements. Not in the sense of "Farewell" here.

Verse 5

Your forbearance (το επιεικες υμων). "Your gentleness," "your sweet reasonableness" (Matthew Arnold), "your moderation." Old adjective (επι, εικος) as in James 3:17; 1 Timothy 3:3. Article and neuter singular here= η επιεικεια (Acts 24:4; 2 Corinthians 10:1) like to χρηστον in Romans 2:4.

The Lord is at hand (ο κυριος εγγυς). "The Apostle's watchword" (Lightfoot), as in 1 Corinthians 16:22 (Μαραν αθα, Aramaic equivalent, Our Lord cometh). Unless, indeed, εγγυς here means near in space instead of

nigh in time.

Verse 6

In nothing be anxious (μηδεν μεριμνατε). Present imperative in prohibition, "stop being anxious." See μη μεριμνατε in Matthew 6:31.

With thanksgiving (μετα ευχαριστιας). In all the forms of prayer here named thanksgiving should appear.

Verse 7

The peace of God (η ειρηνη του θεου). See in 2 Thessalonians 3:16 "the Lord of peace" (ο Κυριος της ειρηνης) and verse Philippians 4:9 for "the God of peace" (ο θεος της ειρηνης).

Shall guard (φρουρησε). "Shall garrison," future active indicative of φρουρεω, old verb from φρουρος (προ οροσ, προοραω, to see before, to look out). See Acts 9:24; 2 Corinthians 11:32. God's peace as a sentinel mounts guard over our lives as Tennyson so beautifully pictures Love as doing.

Verse 8

Finally (το λοιπον). See on Philippians 3:1.

Whatsoever (οσα). Thus he introduces six adjectives picturing Christian ideals, old-fashioned and familiar words not necessarily from any philosophic list of moral excellencies Stoic or otherwise. Without these no ideals can exist. They are pertinent now when so much filth is flaunted before the world in books, magazines and moving-pictures under the name of realism (the slime of the gutter and the cess-pool).

Honourable (σεμνα). Old word from σεβω, to worship, revere. So revered, venerated (1 Timothy 3:8).

Pure (αγνα). Old word for all sorts of purity. There are clean things, thoughts, words, deeds.

Lovely (προσφιλη). Old word, here only in N.T., from προς and φιλεω, pleasing, winsome.

Of good report (ευφημα. Old word, only here in N.T., from ευ and φημη, fair-speaking, attractive.

If there be any (ε τις). Paul changes the construction from οσα (whatsoever) to a condition of the first class, as in Philippians 2:1, with two substantives.

Virtue (αρετη). Old word, possibly from αρεσκω, to please, used very often in a variety of senses by the ancients for any mental excellence or moral quality or physical power. Its very vagueness perhaps explains its rarity in the N.T., only four times (Philippians 4:8; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:5). It is common in the papyri, but probably Paul is using it in the sense found in the LXX (Isaiah 42:12; Isaiah 43:21) of God's splendour and might (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 95) in connection with "praise" (επαινος) as here or even meaning praise.

Think on these things (ταυτα λογιζεσθε). Present middle imperative for habit of thought. We are responsible for our thoughts and can hold them to high and holy ideals.

Verse 9

In me (εν εμο). Paul dares to point to his life in Philippi as an illustration of this high thinking. The preacher is the interpreter of the spiritual life and should be an example of it.

These things do (ταυτα πρασσετε). Practise as a habit (πρασσω, not ποιεω).

Verse 10

I rejoice (εχαρην). Second aorist passive indicative of χαιρω, a timeless aorist. I did rejoice, I do rejoice.

Greatly (μεγαλως). Old adverb, only here in N.T., from μεγας (great).

Now at length (ηδη ποτε). In N.T. only here and Romans 1:10. Ποτε is indefinite past (interval), ηδη immediate present.

Ye have revived (ανεθαλετε). Second aorist active indicative of old poetic word (Homer), αναθαλλω, to sprout again, to shoot up, to blossom again. So in the LXX five times, though rare and literary word.

Your thought for me (το υπερ εμου φρονειν). Accusative case of the articular present active infinitive the object of ανεθαλετε used transitively. "You caused your thinking of me to bloom afresh."

Wherein (εφ' ω). "In which," "upon which" (locative case). A loose reference to Paul's interests as involved in their thinking of him.

Ye did indeed take thought (κα εφρονειτε). Imperfect active, "ye were also (or had been also) thinking."

Ye lacked opportunity (ηκαιρεισθε). Imperfect middle of ακαιρεομα, late and rare word, here only in N.T., from ακαιρος (α privative, καιρος), not to have a chance, the opposite of ευκαιρεω (Mark 6:31).

Verse 11

In respect of want (καθ' υστερησιν). Late and rare word from υστερεω, to be behind or too late, only here and Mark 12:44 in N.T.

I have learned (εμαθον). Simply, "I did learn" (constative second aorist active indicative of μανθανω, to learn, looking at his long experience as a unit.

In whatsoever state I am (εν οις ειμ). "In what things (circumstances) I am."

To be content (αυταρκης εινα). Predicate nominative with the infinitive of the old adjective αυταρκης (from αυτος and αρκεω, to be self-sufficient), self-sufficing. Favourite word with the Stoics, only here in N.T., though αυταρκεια occurs in 2 Corinthians 9:8; 1 Timothy 6:6. Paul is contented with his lot and he learned that lesson long ago. Socrates said as to who is wealthiest: "He that is content with least, for αυταρκεια is nature's wealth."

Verse 12

I know how (οιδα). Followed by the infinitive οιδα has this sense. So here twice, with ταπεινουσθα, to be humbled, from ταπεινος, and with περισσευειν, to overflow.

Have I learned the secret (μεμυημα). Perfect passive indicative of μυεω, old and common word from μυω, to close (Latin mutus), and so to initiate with secret rites, here only in N.T. The common word μυστηριον (mystery) is from μυστης (one initiated) and this from μυεω, to initiate, to instruct in secrets. Paul draws this metaphor from the initiatory rites of the pagan mystery-religions.

To be filled (χορταζεσθα). Old verb from χορτος (grass, hay) and so to fatten like an animal.

To be hungry (πειναιν). Old verb from πεινα (hunger) and kin to πενης, poor man who has to work for his living (πενομα).

Verse 13

I can do all things (παντα ισχυω). Old verb to have strength (ισχυς).

In him that strengtheneth me (εν τω ενδυναμουντ με). Late and rare verb (in LXX) from adjective ενδυναμος (εν, δυναμις). Causative verb to empower, to pour power into one. See same phrase in 1 Timothy 1:12 τω ενδυναμωσαντ με (aorist tense here). Paul has such strength so long as Jesus keeps on putting power (δυναμις) into him.

Verse 14

That ye had fellowship (συνκοινωνησαντες). First aorist active participle (simultaneous action with the principal verb καλως εποιησατε). "Ye did well contributing for my affliction."

Verse 15

In the beginning of the gospel (εν αρχη του ευαγγελιου). After he had wrought in Philippi (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Had fellowship (εκοινωνησεν). "Had partnership" (first aorist active indicative).

In the matter (εις λογον). "As to an account." No other church opened an account with Paul.

Of giving and receiving (δοσεως κα λημψεως). Credit and debit. A mercantile metaphor repeated in verse Philippians 4:17 by εις λογον υμων (to your account). Paul had to keep books then with no other church, though later Thessalonica and Beroea joined Philippi in support of Paul's work in Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:8).

But ye only (ε μη υμεις μονο). Not even Antioch contributed anything but good wishes and prayers for Paul's work (Acts 13:1-3).

Verse 16

Once and again (κα απαξ κα δις). "Both once and twice" they did it "even in Thessalonica" and so before Paul went to Corinth." See the same Greek idiom in 1 Thessalonians 2:18.

Verse 17

I seek for (επιζητω). Old verb, in N.T. only here and Romans 11:7 (linear present, I am seeking for). Lightfoot calls it "the Apostle's nervous anxiety to clear himself" of wanting more gifts. Why not say his delicate courtesy?

Verse 18

I have all things (απεχω παντα). As a receipt in full in appreciation of their kindness. Απεχω is common in the papyri and the ostraca for "receipt in full" (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 110). See Matthew 6:2; Matthew 6:5; Matthew 6:16.

I am filled (πεπληρωμα). Perfect passive indicative of πληροω. "Classical Greek would hardly use the word in this personal sense" (Kennedy).

An odour of a sweet smell (οσμην ευωδιας). Οσμη, old word from οζω, to smell. Ευωδια, old word from ευ and οζω. In Ephesians 5:2 both words come together as here and in 2 Corinthians 2:15 we have ευωδια (only other N.T. example) and in verse 2 Corinthians 2:16 οσμη twice. Ευωδιας here is genitive of quality.

Sacrifice (θυσιαν). Not the act, but the offering as in Romans 12:1.

Well-pleasing (ευαρεστον). As in Romans 12:1.

Verse 19

According to his riches in glory (κατα το πλουτος αυτου εν δοξη). God has an abundant treasure in glory and will repay the Philippians for what they have done for Paul. The spiritual reward is what spurs men into the ministry and holds them to it.

Verse 20

The glory (η δοξα). "The doxology flows out of the joy of the whole epistle" (Bengel).

Verse 21

They that are of Caesar's household (ο εκ της Καισαρος οικιας). Not members of the imperial family, but some connected with the imperial establishment. The term can apply to slaves and freedmen and even to the highest functionaries. Christianity has begun to undermine the throne of the Caesars. Some day a Christian will sit on this throne. The gospel works upward from the lower classes. lt was so at Corinth and in Rome. It is true today. It is doubtful if Nero had yet heard of Paul for his case may have been dismissed by lapse of time. But this obscure prisoner who has planted the gospel in Caesar's household has won more eternal fame and power than all the Caesars combined. Nero will commit suicide shortly after Paul has been executed. Nero's star went down and Paul's rose and rises still.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Philippians 4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/philippians-4.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.