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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Philippians 4



Other Authors
Verse 1

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

So stand fast (ουτο στηκετεhouto stēkete). Present active imperative of στηκωstēkō (late present from perfect εστηκαhestēka from ιστημιhistēmi). See Phlippians 1:27. They were tempted to defection. Standing firm is difficult when a panic starts.

Verse 2

Euodia (ΕυοδιανEuodian). This name means literally “prosperous journey” (ευ οδοςeuΣυντυχηνhodos). It occurs in the inscriptions.

Syntyche (συντυγχανωSuntuchēn). From suntugchanō 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 συνζυγεgnēsie sunzuge). All sorts of suggestions have been made here, one that it was Lydia who is termed Paul‘s wife by the word συνζυγεsunzuge Unfortunately for that view γνησιεgnēsie 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 αυταιςsunlambanou autais). Present middle imperative of συνλαμβανωsunlambanō 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 (συνητλησαν μοιsunēthlēsan moi). First aorist active indicative of συνατλεωsunathleō (for which see note on Phlippians 1:27) with associative instrumental case (μοιmoi).

With Clement also (μετα και Κλημεντοςmeta kai Klēmentos). There is no evidence that he was Clement of Rome as the name is common.

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

Verse 4

Again I will say (παλιν ερωpalin erō). Future active indicative of defective verb ειπονeipon

Rejoice (χαιρετεchairete). Present active imperative as in Phlippians 3:1, repeated for emphasis in spite of discouragements. Not in the sense of “Farewell” here.

Verse 5

Your forbearance (το επιεικες υμωνto epieikes humōn). “Your gentleness,” “your sweet reasonableness” (Matthew Arnold), “your moderation.” Old adjective (επι εικοςepiη επιεικειαeikos) as in James 3:17; 1 Timothy 3:3. Article and neuter singular here= χρηστονhē epieikeia (Acts 24:4; 2 Corinthians 10:1) like to ο κυριος εγγυςchrēston in Romans 2:4.

The Lord is at hand (Μαραν αταho kurios eggus). “The Apostle‘s watchword” (Lightfoot), as in 1 Corinthians 16:22 (εγγυςMaran atha Aramaic equivalent, Our Lord cometh). Unless, indeed, eggus here means near in space instead of nigh in time.

Verse 6

In nothing be anxious (μηδεν μεριμνατεmēden merimnāte). Present imperative in prohibition, “stop being anxious.” See μη μεριμνατεmē merimnāte in Matthew 6:31.

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

Verse 7

The peace of God (η ειρηνη του τεουhē eirēnē tou theou). See in 2 Thessalonians 3:16 “the Lord of peace” (ο Κυριος της ειρηνηςho Kurios tēs eirēnēs) and Phlippians 4:9 for “the God of peace” (ο τεος της ειρηνηςho theos tēs eirēnēs).

Shall guard (προυρησειphrourēsei). “Shall garrison,” future active indicative of προυρεωphroureō old verb from προυροςphrouros (προοροσ προοραωprȯhorosprooraō to see before, to look out). See note on 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 λοιπονto loipon). See note on Phlippians 3:1.

Whatsoever (οσαhosa). 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 (σεμναsemna). Old word from σεβωsebō to worship, revere. So revered, venerated (1 Timothy 3:8).

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

Lovely (προσπιληprosphilē). Old word, here only in N.T., from προςpros and πιλεωphileō pleasing, winsome.

Of good report (ευπημαeuphēma Old word, only here in N.T., from ευeu and πημηphēmē fair-speaking, attractive.

If there be any (ει τιςei tis). Paul changes the construction from οσαhosa (whatsoever) to a condition of the first class, as in Phlippians 2:1, with two substantives.

Virtue (αρετηaretē). Old word, possibly from αρεσκωareskō 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 (Phlippians 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 (Isa 42:12; 43:21) of God‘s splendour and might (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 95) in connection with “praise” (επαινοςepainos) as here or even meaning praise.

Think on these things (ταυτα λογιζεστεtauta logizesthe). 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 εμοιen emoi). 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 πρασσετεtauta prassete). Practise as a habit (πρασσωprassō not ποιεωpoieō).

Verse 10

I rejoice (εχαρηνecharēn). Second aorist passive indicative of χαιρωchairō a timeless aorist. I did rejoice, I do rejoice.

Greatly (μεγαλωςmegalōs). Old adverb, only here in N.T., from μεγαςmegas (great).

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

Ye have revived (ανεταλετεanethalete). Second aorist active indicative of old poetic word (Homer), αναταλλωanathallō 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 προνεινto huper emou phronein). Accusative case of the articular present active infinitive the object of ανεταλετεanethalete used transitively. “You caused your thinking of me to bloom afresh.”

Wherein (επ ωιEphesians' hōi). “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 (και επρονειτεkai ephroneite). Imperfect active, “ye were also (or had been also) thinking.”

Ye lacked opportunity (ηκαιρειστεēkaireisthe). Imperfect middle of ακαιρεομαιakaireomai late and rare word, here only in N.T., from ακαιροςakairos (αa privative, καιροςkairos), not to have a chance, the opposite of ευκαιρεωeukaireō (Mark 6:31).

Verse 11

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

I have learned (εματονemathon). Simply, “I did learn” (constative second aorist active indicative of μαντανωmanthanō to learn, looking at his long experience as a unit.

In whatsoever state I am (εν οις ειμιen hois eimi). “In what things (circumstances) I am.”

To be content (αυταρκης ειναιautarkēs einai). Predicate nominative with the infinitive of the old adjective αυταρκηςautarkēs (from αυτοςautos and αρκεωarkeō to be self-sufficient), self-sufficing. Favourite word with the Stoics, only here in N.T., though αυταρκειαautarkeia 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 αυταρκειαautarkeia is nature‘s wealth.”

Verse 12

I know how (οιδαoida). Followed by the infinitive οιδαoida has this sense. So here twice, with ταπεινουσταιtapeinousthai to be humbled, from ταπεινοςtapeinos and with περισσευεινperisseuein to overflow.

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

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

To be hungry (πειναινpeināin). Old verb from πειναpeina (hunger) and kin to πενηςpenēs poor man who has to work for his living (πενομαιpenomai).

Verse 13

I can do all things (παντα ισχυωpanta ischuō). Old verb to have strength (ισχυςischus).

In him that strengtheneth me (εν τωι ενδυναμουντι μεen tōi endunamounti me). Late and rare verb (in lxx) from adjective ενδυναμοςendunamos (εν δυναμιςenclass="normal greek">τωι ενδυναμωσαντι με dunamis). Causative verb to empower, to pour power into one. See same phrase in 1 Timothy 1:12 δυναμιςtōi endunamōsanti me (aorist tense here). Paul has such strength so long as Jesus keeps on putting power (dunamis) into him.

Verse 14

That ye had fellowship (συνκοινωνησαντεςsunKoinéōnēsantes). First aorist active participle (simultaneous action with the principal verb καλως εποιησατεkalōs epoiēsate). “Ye did well contributing for my affliction.”

Verse 15

In the beginning of the gospel (εν αρχηι του ευαγγελιουen archēi tou euaggeliou). After he had wrought in Philippi (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Had fellowship (εκοινωνησενeKoinéōnēsen). “Had partnership” (first aorist active indicative).

In the matter (εις λογονeis logon). “As to an account.” No other church opened an account with Paul.

Of giving and receiving (δοσεως και λημπσεωςdoseōs kai lēmpseōs). Credit and debit. A mercantile metaphor repeated in Phlippians 4:17 by εις λογον υμωνeis logon humōn (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 (ει μη υμεις μονοιei mē humeis monoi). Not even Antioch contributed anything but good wishes and prayers for Paul‘s work (Acts 13:1-3).

Verse 16

Once and again (και απαχ και διςkai hapax kai dis). “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 (επιζητωepizētō). 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 πανταapechō panta). As a receipt in full in appreciation of their kindness. ΑπεχωApechō 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 (πεπληρωμαιpeplērōmai). Perfect passive indicative of πληροωplēroō “Classical Greek would hardly use the word in this personal sense” (Kennedy).

An odour of a sweet smell (οσμην ευωδιαςosmēn euōdias). ΟσμηOsmē old word from οζωozō to smell. ΕυωδιαEuōdia old word from ευeu and οζωozō In Ephesians 5:2 both words come together as here and in 2 Corinthians 2:15 we have ευωδιαeuōdia (only other N.T. example) and in verse 2 Corinthians 2:16 οσμηosmē twice. ΕυωδιαςEuōdias here is genitive of quality.

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

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

Verse 19

According to his riches in glory (κατα το πλουτος αυτου εν δοχηιkata to ploutos autou en doxēi). 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 δοχαhē doxa). “The doxology flows out of the joy of the whole epistle” (Bengel).

Verse 21

They that are of Caesar‘s household (οι εκ της Καισαρος οικιαςhoi ek tēs Kaisaros oikias). 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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Philippians 4:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 23rd, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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