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Bible Commentaries

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary
Philippians 4

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-23

JOY IN ANXIETY

The chapter opens with another exhortation to unity, but this time in a specific case (Philippians 4:1-3). Two Christian women, probably deaconesses, like Phoebe (Romans 16:1), were at variance. The spirit of self had got in and Paul pleads with them to come together again, and pleads with his “true yokefellow,” whoever he may have been, to help them do it.

This leads to a statement of a great truth about self-will (Philippians 4:4-9). In the first place, to “rejoice in the Lord” is an antidote to self-will (Philippians 4:4). Second, the absence of mere self-will in a Christian should “be known to all men,” i.e., it should be a reality in his life, since the Lord is always “at hand” to help and to calm his spirit. Third, since the occasion of the Christians self- will is likely to be some cause for anxiety about himself, he is to remove this by telling it to the Lord (Philippians 4:6). Thus God’s peace will garrison his heart, keeping it as with a sentinel from being invaded by disquiet, giving rise to self-will. The Christian who thus draws his strength from God is able to act on the advice of Philippians 4:8, and to follow the example of Paul in Philippians 4:9. How wonderful the grace of God in Paul, when he might dare to remind them of himself in these respects, not in egotism, but in sober and blessed fact!

The remainder of the letter is taken up with personal matters. The church at Philippi had contributed to the apostle’s physical needs through the ministration of Epaphroditus. They had aided him in his necessity before; but sometime had elapsed since they had done so, because they “lacked opportunity” (Philippians 4:10). The apostle was not complaining. He had not wanted anything, not because he had much, but because he had learned to do with little (Philippians 4:11-12). This was not a natural gift of his, but a supernatural enduement (Philippians 4:13). Nevertheless the kindnesses of the Philippians were appreciated, and especially because they were the fruit of Paul’s ministry among them, which ultimately would bring reward to them “abound to your account” (Philippians 4:14-17). This would be true because they did it for him in the name of the Lord, Who would supply all their need (Philippians 4:18-19).

Note in the closing salutation, “They that are of Caesar’s household” (Philippians 4:22), which means Christian believers “gathered from the retainers of the palace.” “The household of Caesar” embraced a vast number of persons in Rome and in the provinces, all of whom were either actual or former slaves of the Empire, filling every description of office more or less domestic. It should be added that they were not necessarily of inferior races, but captives taken in war, just as the Hebrews were made to serve at the court of Babylon. Their associations and functions give a noble view of the power of grace to triumph over circumstances, and to transfigure life where it seems most impossible.

QUESTIONS

1. Explain Philippians 4:1-3.

2. State in your own words the inspired teaching about self-will.

3. State in your own words Paul’s feeling about the ministrations of this church to him.

4. Who are meant by “Caesar’s household”?

5. How is the power of grace illustrated in them?

 


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Bibliography Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Philippians 4:4". The James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jgc/philippians-4.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, September 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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