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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
Philippians 4

 

 

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Verses 1-8

Think on these things

Philippians 4:1-8

Philippians 4:1. ‘My brethren,’ not in the natural sense but in a spiritual sense, having the same Father,’ being in the same family, of the household of faith.

‘My dearly beloved and longed for.’ Paul sincerely loved these people and longed to be with them, to fellowship and converse with them.

‘My joy and my crown.’ He taught them the gospel and they were seals of his ministry and proof of his call. They were a greater joy and crown to him than anything that the world could offer. The fruits of a man's ministry are his converts and they are the best test of his ministry (Matthew 7:15-20).

‘Stand fast in the Lord.’

1. Stand fast in his power, for even saints are liable to fall (Jude 1:24).

2. Stand fast in his gospel, which is able to save (1 Corinthians 15:1).

3. Stand fast in the liberty of Christ, as opposed to the bondage of the law.

4. Stand fast in the doctrines of Christ (1 Timothy 4:16).

Philippians 4:2. Two women, Euodias and Syntyche (members of the church), evidently were divided over a problem. Paul takes notice of their conflict and exhorts them to settle it for the glory of God and to be united in fellowship and purpose. All believers should seek to preserve the unity of the church and to be of the same mind (Colossians 3:12-15).

Philippians 4:3. This is evidently addressed to the pastor, who was to assist these women in settling their differences. These women were of valuable aid to Paul, Clement and others. Let us help bring people together, for the unity of the church and the glory of Christ are much more important than personal differences and disputes.

Philippians 4:4. The word ‘rejoice’ is used ten times in this epistle. I pray that we may learn the word in heart and experience as well as in doctrine. There is always cause to rejoice in the Lord! Rejoice in his grace, which is always sufficient. Rejoice in his blood, which cleanses. Rejoice in his righteousness, which justifies. Rejoice in his love, which never fails. Rejoice in his providence, which works all things together for our good. Rejoice in his intercession, which is continual. Rejoice that your names are written in the book of life!

Philippians 4:5. The ‘moderation’ here is not in eating and drinking, though this is certainly important. The word here is ‘Let all men (both in the church and out) see and recognize your humility, unselfishness, consideration and forgiving spirit.’

1. We are to deal with others not with the severity of law and justice, but with gentleness and love (Ephesians 4:31-32).

2. We are to put up with affronts and injuries by bearing them patiently and forgivingly.

3. We are to put the best interpretation on words and statements, not seeking cause for offence.

4. Let our Christian attitude adorn our doctrine, for ‘the Lord is at hand,’ meaning ‘he will help you by giving you grace,’ or ‘the Lord observes our conduct of spirit,’ or ‘the Lord is coming soon to judge all men.’ All are true.

Philippians 4:6. ‘Do not fret, murmur, nor be filled with anxiety over things (Psalms 37:1-8). Take your burdens, cares and problems to the Lord in prayer. In everything let your requests be known to God, and do it with thanksgiving.’ I can never come to the throne for mercy except I already have mercies for which to be thankful!

Philippians 4:7. This ‘peace of God’ is twofold.

1. It is the peace which is made with God by the obedience, sacrifice and intercession of our blessed Lord (Romans 5:1).

2. It is the peace of heart, mind and conscience which arises from a correct view of Christ. We know that we have passed from death to life; we know that our sins are forgiven; we know that we are sons of God and the peace of God rules in our hearts.

‘Passeth understanding.’ The natural man certainly does not understand this peace and rest which Christ gives. His soul and mind are in a constant state of unrest and turmoil. Neither do we fully understand the blessed peace of God which he in mercy gives us in Christ! We accept it by faith and rest in his promise.

Philippians 4:8. ‘Finally, brethren.’ In this matter of attitude and humble spirit, ‘think on these things!’ Meditate on them. Consider and dwell upon them in order to put them into daily practice:

1. ‘Whatsoever things are true’ – agreeable to the truth in Christ Jesus, the truth of the gospel and the word of God.

2. ‘Whatsoever things are honest’ – honest in the sight of God and men, honest in business, in speech, in conduct.

3. ‘Whatsoever things are just’ – giving to God that which is his (worship, praise, reverence, myself) and to man that which is his, avoiding oppression and injustice. Owe no man anything he needs or deserves.

4. ‘Whatsoever things are pure’ – pure in word or deed, in opposition to pride, covetousness, hatred, envy and self-seeking.

5. ‘Whatsoever things are holy’ – agreeable to the character of God and his kingdom, that which promotes holiness of heart and life.

6. ‘Whatsoever things are lovely.’ – These are faith, kindness, compassion, generosity and all commendable virtues.

7. ‘Whatsoever things are of good report’ – things which contribute to a good name, a good reputation, a good opinion for the glory of Christ.

If anything is virtuous and worthy of praise, think on these things. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he!’ (Proverbs 4:23).


Verses 9-23

The support of missionaries and preachers

Philippians 4:9-23

Philippians 4:9. Throughout this epistle, Paul has exhorted the people to have unity of spirit and purpose, to love one another, to have real concern and care for one another, to be of a humble mind and disposition, to avoid false teachers, to rest in Christ alone for righteousness and to meditate on holy things. Now in this verse, he makes a very important point: ‘Those things which you have learned and received.’ It is hoped that you have not just learned these things in a doctrinal way, but that you have received them not just in your head, but in your heart, and have not only ‘heard them from me, but you have seen them in me.’ What good are words if our actions and attitudes are contrary? ‘Do these things. Put them in daily practice. God will be with you!’

Philippians 4:10. Paul rejoiced over the gifts and supplies this church had sent him by their pastor. Evidently they had for some reason neglected to communicate with him for a long time. He adds, ‘I'm sure you were thinking of me, but you had no opportunity to show it.’ Let this be a lesson to us: let us always be faithful in our prayers, care and concern for those who labour faithfully in the word. Don't forget those missionaries and ministers whom you do not see for a season.

Philippians 4:11. Paul did not mean to imply that he was wanting anything, though he possessed nothing. He had all things in Christ and found contentment and peace in whatever condition the providence of God put him, be it adversity or prosperity, with much or little (Luke 12:15; 1 Timothy 6:6-10). He learned this in the school of grace, taught by the Spirit.

Philippians 4:12. ‘I know how to be treated with contempt by men, to live humbly in a low condition, to work with my hands, to be hungry and cold – yet not to be depressed, cast down or murmur against God. I know how to be held in the esteem of men, to have an abundance – yet not to be lifted up with pride and forget that ‘the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.’ I have learned of God how to behave toward the temporary things of earth, how to put them in their proper perspective.’

Philippians 4:13. And now, lest he be thought to be proud of his grace and ascribe too much to himself, he attributes all grace to the power of Christ in him. ‘I can be happy in any state and endure all these things, not in my own strength (for no man was more conscious of his own weakness than Paul). I am ready for anything through the power of Christ in me.’

Content with beholding his face,

my all to his pleasure resigned;

No changes of season or place

would make any change in my mind.

While blest with a sense of his love,

a palace a toy would appear;

And prisons would palaces prove

if Jesus would dwell with me there.

Philippians 4:14. Paul adds this lest they should think that he was discounting their gift and was not grateful. He has declared, ‘I can be content in need or in plenty, but I appreciate your help. You have done what you should have done. You have done well in providing for those who preach God's word’ (1 Corinthians 9:6-11).

Philippians 4:15-17. This church was the only church that talked with Paul about the subject of giving and supporting the ministry of the word. Even when he left Philippi and went to Thessalonica, they supported his ministry and took care of his needs. Strange that, even in the days of the apostles, churches were negligent in the matter of missions and supporting missionaries. He says, ‘I have not entered into this subject because I desire a gift from you. I am eager to see the fruits of righteousness and salvation in you. The kingdom of God can get along without you and me, but I would like to see some evidence that you and I are in that kingdom of grace’ (James 2:14-20).

Philippians 4:18-19. ‘I have in hand all of your gifts, sent to me through your pastor. These gifts have the sweet smell of an offering and sacrifice which God welcomes and in which he delights. I cannot repay you, but my God will! He shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory through Christ Jesus!’

Philippians 4:20. To God, who is our Father in Christ Jesus, be all the glory for the grace he gives now, for the glory and happiness expected and for the supply of every need, both temporal and spiritual.

Philippians 4:21-23. ‘Greet all the brethren there. The brethren and believers here send their greetings to you. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you!’

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on Philippians 4:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/philippians-4.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 8th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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