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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Philippians 4

 

 

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Verse 1

Philippians 4:1. Steadfastness.—Paul introduces his exhortation to steadfastness with the word "wherefore," so as to base it on what he has just said about the coming of Christ and its expected effects, and he enriches it with an affectionate reference to the relation of the Philippians to himself. In a peculiar way it is they, of all his converts, who give him joy, and whom he regards as like a festive garland or a victor's wreath, since they especially illustrate in their lives and characters the success of his ministry.


Verse 2-3

Philippians 4:2 f. Unity and Helpfulness.—In particular the apostle has exhortations for three people. Two women, Euodia and Syntyche, seem to be not quite friendly towards each other; he exhorts them to come together, by realising that they are both in Christ. Possibly the Greek word rendered "yoke-fellow" (Philippians 4:3) is a proper name, Syzygus, although no such name has been found in Greek literature or inscriptions. If so. in addressing him as "true Syzygus" Paul's meaning is that the person is rightly named, for he is a genuine yoke-fellow. There is an inscription in which a gladiator is described as the yoke-fellow of another gladiator who has killed him. If the word is not a proper name we do not know who is referred to. Various persons have been suggested, viz. Paul's wife (!), the husband of one of the two women previously mentioned, Epaphroditus, and the bishop of the church—if the latter, to be compared with Archippus at Colossæ (Colossians 4:17; Phlippians 1:2). The true yoke-fellow is to help the women. They had laboured with Paul at Philippi along with Clement (who is not to be identified with the author of a letter from Rome written c. A.D. 95; the name was not uncommon), and others whose names are in the book of life. The expression "the book of life" occurs often in Rev. but nowhere else in NT except in this passage (cf. Luke 10:20). It is based on the idea of a roll of citizens, and it means God's roll of those who have the gift of life. There is nothing to suggest a reference to departed saints.


Verses 4-7

Philippians 4:4-7. Joy and Peace.—Once again Paul sounds his dominant note of joy. For the fifth and last time he refers to the return of Christ (cf. Philippians 1:6; Philippians 1:10, Philippians 2:16, Philippians 3:20). He deprecates anxiety and commends his readers to prayer, a consequence of which will be that a peace given by God will guard their hearts and thoughts in Christ, secure from the invasion of anxiety. [The peace passes all human contrivance or ingenuity, not "all understanding."—A. J. G.]


Verse 8-9

Philippians 4:8 f. Subjects of Thought.—A second time Paul prepares to close, again using the word "Finally." His message now is to commend worthy topics of thought. Departing from the usual Biblical vocabulary, he selects words more often found in the classics to designate pagan excellences. This must be of set purpose, and it means that the readers are to practise the habit of recognising and considering all the good they see in the world outside the church.


Verses 10-18

Philippians 4:10-18. Thanks for the Gifts.—The Philippians had sent assistance to Paul several times. They had begun when he was at Thessalonica, sending there twice. Now Epaphroditus has been bringing a more recent contribution. Paul delights in this because it is a fruit of Christian grace in the good people who send it. He regards it as a fragrant sacrifice to God. As for himself, he has no anxiety about such matters because he has learnt how to have abundance and how to suffer want. He is independent in regard to both extremes, being able to endure everything that happens through the one who strengthens him, meaning either God or Christ ("Christ" is not in the best MSS).


Verses 19-23

Philippians 4:19-23. Conclusion.—Paul's wants have been supplied, now he is assured that the wants of his friends will also be provided for; the ground of this hope is that God has given glorious riches in Christ. So the apostle utters a doxology to the Father. The letter being written to the whole church, he salutes every member of it—designated as "every saint" (Philippians 1:1*). His companions join in his greetings, especially the Christians in "Cæsar's household." These would, for the most part, belong to the vast body of slaves and freedmen, but perhaps include some officers of rank, at the imperial palace. The final benediction, in accordance with Paul's usage, gracefully employs the Greek term of valediction, but with a deepened Christian meaning, so as to breathe a prayer for God's grace on the readers.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Philippians 4:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/philippians-4.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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