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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
New American Standard Version
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  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. Bridgeway Bible Commentary
  3. Coffman Commentaries on the Bible
  4. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  5. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  6. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
  7. Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible
  8. James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
  9. Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
  10. John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
  11. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  12. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  13. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  14. Meyer's Devotional Commentary on Philippians
  15. Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament
  16. Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible
  17. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  18. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  19. Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
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  21. The Expositor's Greek Testament
  22. Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament
  23. F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
  24. F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary
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  28. Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books
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  39. Hamilton Smith's Writings
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  42. Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
  43. Joseph Beet's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
  44. John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians
  45. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
  46. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
  47. James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary
  48. Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books
  49. Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
  50. John Trapp Complete Commentary
  51. Kingcomments on the Whole Bible
  52. The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann
  53. Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical
  54. L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
  55. Wells of Living Water Commentary
  56. Wells of Living Water Commentary
  57. Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture
  58. Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible
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  60. Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible
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  66. People's New Testament
  67. Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
  68. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
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  71. Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
  72. Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
  73. Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
  74. Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
  75. The Biblical Illustrator
  76. The Biblical Illustrator
  77. The Biblical Illustrator
  78. Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
  79. Expositor's Bible Commentary
  80. The Pulpit Commentaries
  81. Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
  82. Vincent's Word Studies
  83. Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
  84. Wesley's Explanatory Notes
  85. Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Commandments;   Holiness;   Honesty;   Integrity;   Purity;   Righteous;   Truth;   Virtue;   Thompson Chain Reference - Business Life;   Deeper Life, the;   Honesty;   Life;   Measures;   Mind, Carnal-Spiritual;   Social Duties;   Thoughts;   Virtues;   Wise;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Conduct, Christian;   Justice;   Truth;  
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Mind;   Paul;   Temptation;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Justice;   Purity;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Christianity;   Church;   Lying;   Meekness;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Science;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Brothers;   Chaste;   Ethics;   Honesty;   Paul;   Philippians;   Purity-Purification;   Wrath, Wrath of God;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Perfection;   Philippians, Epistle to;   Purity;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Commandment;   Discipline;   Gentiles;   Grave Gravity ;   Heathen;   Honest;   Justice;   Numbers;   Philippians Epistle to the;   Repentance;   Self-Denial;   Virtue;   Will;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Honest, Honesty;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Honest;   Honorable;   Lovely;   Meditation;   Papyrus;   Peter, the Second Epistle of;   Philippians, the Epistle to;   Praise;   Pure;   Reverence;   Text and Manuscripts of the New Testament;   Virtue;  
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for September 5;   Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for November 2;   Every Day Light - Devotion for December 12;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Finally, brethren - The object of the apostle is to recommend holiness and righteousness to them in every point of view; and to show that the Gospel of Christ requires all its professors to have the mind that was in Christ, and to walk as he himself also walked. That they were not to attend to one branch of righteousness or virtue only, but to every thing by which they might bring honor to God, good to their fellow creatures, and credit to themselves.

Whatsoever things are true - Ὁσα - αληθη· All that is agreeable to unchangeable and eternal truth. Whether that which is to be learned from the nature and state of created things, or that which comes immediately from God by revelation.

Whatsoever things are honest - Ὁσα σεμνα· Whatever is grave, decent, and venerable. Whatever becomes you as men, as citizens, and as Christians.

Whatsoever things are just - Ὁσα δικαια· Whatsoever is agreeable to justice and righteousness. All that ye owe to God, to your neighbor, and to yourselves.

Whatsoever things are pure - Ὁσα ἁγνα· Whatsoever is chaste. In reference to the state of the mind, and to the acts of the body.

Whatsoever things are lovely - Ὁσα προσφιλη· Whatsoever is amiable on its own account and on account of its usefulness to others, whether in your conduct or conversation.

Whatsoever things are of good report - Ὁσα ευφημα· Whatsoever things the public agree to acknowledge as useful and profitable to men; such as charitable institutions of every kind, in which genuine Christians should ever take the lead.

If there be any virtue - If they be calculated to promote the general good of mankind, and are thus praiseworthy;

Think on these things - Esteem them highly, recommend them heartily, and practice them fervently.

Instead of ει τις επαινος, if there be any praise, several eminent MSS., as D*EFG, add επιστημης, of knowledge; and the Vulgate and the Itala have disciplinae, of discipline; but none of these appear to be an original reading.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


Concerning thoughts and conduct (4:1-9)

With words of warmest friendship, Paul encourages the Philippians to stand firm and not be shaken by problems that arise, whether inside the church or outside. He appeals to two women who had quarrelled to become friends again. The women had once worked with Paul, and no doubt they would be a help to the church if they were united. He asks a close friend in the church to do all he can to help these women forget their differences (4:1-3).

Above all, the Christians must at all times rejoice and be patient with one another. They must learn not to worry but to pray with thankful and believing hearts. God's peace will then protect them from unnecessary mental and emotional tension (4-7). By filling their minds with the things that are good and honourable, they will have conduct that is good and honourable. They must remember the example Paul has given them (8-9).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Finally ... Paul had written this in Philippians 3:1; but as Caffin put it, "Again and again he prepares to close his epistle, but he cannot at once bid farewell to his beloved Philippians.[20]

Thought control is clearly the practice Paul enjoined here. If people would live correctly in God's sight, let them think of those qualities which possess positive value. Thinking of such things will lead to speaking of them, as exemplified in the lives of associates, thus contributing to the joy and unity of Christian fellowship.

Foulkes pointed out that the strong word ([@logizomai]) Paul used here, translated "take such things into account" is Paul's way of saying, "Let such things shape your attitudes."[21]

Of special interest in Paul's list given here is the word [@arete], translated "virtue." This is found nowhere else in Paul's letters and in only two other New Testament references (1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3), despite the fact of its being "a frequent word in classical and Hellenistic Greek."[22] Lightfoot believed that Paul "seems studiously to avoid this common heathen term for moral excellence."[23] From this Lightfoot interpreted Paul's meaning to be, "Whatever value may reside in your old heathen conception of virtue, whatever consideration is due to the praise of men, etc."[24] Barry concurred in this discernment, saying that Paul's introduction of virtue and praise after the hypothetical "if there be any" indicated that these last two words "occupy less firm and important ground"[25] than the others (due, of course, to pagan conceptions of what the terms meant).

Despite the above, however, this writer holds this list of desirables in the highest respect, the words in their commonly accepted denotations and connotations standing for the very greatest human excellence known to man. God help all people to let their thoughts dwell upon such things as Paul enumerated here.

[20] B. C. Caffin, op. cit., p. 157.

[21] Frances Foulkes, op. cit., p. 1138.

[22] R. P. Martin, op. cit.,, p. 172.

[23] J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1963), p. 162.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Alfred Barry, op. cit., p. 87.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Finally, brethren - As for what remains - τὸ λοιπὸν to loipon- or as a final counsel or exhortation.

Whatsoever things are true - In this exhortation the apostle assumes that there were certain things admitted to be true, and pure, and good, in the world, which had not been directly revealed, or which were commonly regarded as such by the people of the world, and his object is to show them that such things ought to be exhibited by the Christian. Everything that was honest and just toward God and toward people was to be practiced by them, and they were in all things to be examples of the highest kind of morality. They were not to exhibit partial virtues; not to perform one set of duties to the neglect or exclusion of others; not to be faithful in their duties to God, and to neglect their duty to people, not to be punctual in their religious rites, and neglectful of the comment laws of morality; but they were to do everything that could be regarded as the fair subject of commendation, and that was implied in the highest moral character. The word true refers here to everything that was the reverse of falsehood. They were to be true to their engagements; true to their promises; true in their statements; and true in their friendships. They were to maintain the truth about God; about eternity; about the judgment; and about every man‘s character. Truth is a representation of things as they are; and they were constantly to live under the correct impression of objects. A man who is false to his engagements, or false in his statements and promises, is one who will always disgrace religion.

Whatsoever things are honest - σεμνὰ semnaProperly, venerable, reverend; then honorable, reputable. The word was originally used in relation to the gods, and to the things that pertained to them, as being worthy of honor or veneration - Passow. As applied to people, it commonly means grave, dignified, worthy of veneration or regard. In the New Testament it is rendered “grave” in 1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 3:11, and Titus 2:2, the only places where the word occurs except this; and the noun ( σεμνότης semnotēs) is rendered “honesty” in 1 Timothy 2:2, and “gravity” in 1 Timothy 3:4, and Titus 2:7. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The word, therefore, does not express precisely what the word “honest” does with us, as confined to dealings or business transactions, but rather has reference to what was regarded as worthy of reputation or honor; what there was in the customs of society, in the respect due to age and rank, and in the contact of the world, that deserved respect or esteem. It includes indeed what is right in the transaction of business, but it embraces also much more, and means that the Christian is to show respect to all the venerable and proper customs of society, when they did not violate conscience or interfere with the law of God; compare 1 Timothy 3:7.

Whatsoever things are just - The things which are right between man and man. A Christian should be just in all his dealings. His religion does not exempt him from the strict laws which bind people to the exercise of this virtue, and there is no way by which a professor of religion can do more injury perhaps than by injustice and dishonesty in his dealings. It is to be remembered that the people of the world, in estimating a person‘s character, affix much more importance to the virtues of justice and honesty than they do to regularity in observing the ordinances of religion; and therefore if a Christian would make an impression on his fellow-men favorable to religion, it is indispensable that he manifest uncorrupted integrity in his dealings.

Whatsoever things are pure - Chaste - in thought, in feeling, and in the conversation between the sexes; compare the notes at 1 Timothy 5:2.

Whatsoever things are lovely - The word used here means properly what is dear to anyone; then what is pleasing. Here it means what is amiable - such a temper of mind that one can love it; or such as to be agreeable to others. A Christian should not be sour, crabby, or irritable in his temper - for nothing almost tends so much to injure the cause of religion as a temper always chafed; a brow morose and stern; an eye that is severe and unkind, and a disposition to find fault with everything. And yet it is to be regretted that there are many persons who make no pretensions to piety, who far surpass many professors of religion in the virtue here commended. A sour and crabby temper in a professor of religion will undo all the good that he attempts to do.

Whatsoever things are of good report - That is, whatsoever is truly reputable in the world at large. There are actions which all people agree in commending, and which in all ages and countries are regarded as virtues. courtesy, urbanity, kindness, respect for parents, purity between brothers and sisters, are among those virtues, and the Christian should be a pattern and an example in them all. His usefulness depends much more on the cultivation of these virtues than is commonly supposed.

If there be any virtue - If there is anything truly virtuous. Paul did not suppose that he had given a full catalogue of the virtues which he would have cultivated. He, therefore, adds, that if there was anything else that had the nature of true virtue in it, they should be careful to cultivate that also. The Christian should be a pattern and an example of every virtue.

And if there be any praise - Anything worthy of praise, or that ought to be praised.

Think on these things - Let them be the object of your careful attention and study, so as to practice them. Think what they are; think on the obligation to observe them; think on the influence which they would have on the world around you.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

true. App-175.

honest = honourable, venerable,

grave. Greek. semnos. Here, 1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 3:11. Titus 2:2.

just. App-191.

pure, Greek. hagnos. See 2 Corinthians 7:11.

lovely. Greek. prosphiles. Only here.

of good report. Gp. euphemos. Only here.

if. App-118., a.

any. A1. Philippians 123:3,

virtue, Greek. arete. Only here, 1 Peter 2:9. 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 1:5.

think on = take account of. Greek. logizomai, as Romans 4:3, &c.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

8.Finally What follows consists of general exhortations which relate to the whole of life. In the first place, he commends truth, which is nothing else than the integrity of a good conscience, with the fruits of it: secondly, gravity, or sanctity, for τὸ σεμνόν (240) denotes both — an excellence which consists in this, that we walk in a manner worthy of our vocation, (Ephesians 4:1,) keeping at a distance from all profane filthiness: thirdly, justice, which has to do with the mutual intercourse of mankind — that we do not injure any one, that we do not defraud any one; and, fourthly, purity, which denotes chastity in every department of life. Paul, however, does not reckon all these things to be sufficient, if we do not at the same time endeavor to make ourselves agreeable to all, in so far as we may lawfully do so in the Lord, and have regard also to our good name. For it is in this way that I understand the words —

If any praise, (241) that is, anything praiseworthy, for amidst such a corruption of manners there is so great a perversity in men’s judgments that praise is often bestowed (242) upon what is blameworthy, and it is not allowable for Christians to be desirous even of true praise among men, inasmuch as they are elsewhere forbidden to glory, except in God alone. (1 Corinthians 1:31.) Paul, therefore, does not bid them try to gain applause or commendation by virtuous actions, nor even to regulate their life according to the judgments of the people, but simply means, that they should devote themselves to the performance of good works, which merit commendation, that the wicked, and those who are enemies of the gospel, while they deride Christians and cast reproach upon them, may, nevertheless, be constrained to commend their deportment.

The word, προσφιλὢ καὶ εὔφημα however, among the Greeks, is employed, like cogitare among the Latins, to mean, meditate. (243) Now meditation comes first, afterwards follows action.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

  1. INTRO:
    1. Pray for Ukraine Team: (Leave Sunday)
    2. Quick Thinking: A man working in the produce department was asked by a lady if she could buy 1/2 a head of lettuce. He replied, “1/2 a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that’s how we sell them!” “You mean,” she persisted, “that after all the years I’ve shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?” “Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.” She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. “You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-braided idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy 1/2-a-head of lettuce.” He noticed the manager gesturing, and turned around to see the lady standing behind him, obviously having followed him to the front of the store. “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other 1/2,” he concluded.
      Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, “That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that?” “I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s known for its great hockey teams & its ugly women.” The manager’s face flushed, & he interrupted, “My wife is from Grand Rapids!” “And which hockey team did she play for?”
    3. Paul now gives 2 lists: Things to Meditate on & things to Put into practice!
      1. First, your thought life; then your model of effective Christian living.
        1. Aging is a matter of fact(we’re all getting older); Maturity is a matter of choice!
  2. Leash Your Mind, Unleash Your Maturity!
    1. LEASH YOUR MIND! (8)
    1. (8) Paul now gives the standard for our thought life!
      1. Deliberately keep your mind on Positive, Pure, Praiseworthy Points!
    2. Note the importance of the mind & its right use.
      1. Note what God can do for our minds - Is.26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace(Shalom Shalom) Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
      2. “If this list is suppose to be the meat & potatoes of our thoughts; then worry is the Junk food for our soul!”
    3. True (truthfulness); Noble (that which is majestic & awe inspiring); Just (right); Pure (morally pure, clean thoughts); Lovely (acceptable); Good Report (admirable, attractive); Virtue (the most comprehensive Gk. term for moral excellence); Praiseworthy(worthy of Praise).
    4. Meditate - consider, reckon, take into account, to think on.
      1. Pres tense calls for a “continual or habitual action”.
      2. We are responsible for our thoughts & can hold them to High & Holy ideals!
        1. At times I hold myself to these Holy 8!
        2. Other times I let em run anywhere they want to run, as fast as they want to run there.
      3. Example: Different leashes to walk your dogs (eg: leash; lead(dog shows); choke chain; prong choke chain; retractable??? Allows dog to roam anywhere)
        1. Why do most of our cities have leash laws? (on a leash & under control)
        2. To protect other citizens from dog attacks when off of your property.
        3. You’ve heard, “Leash your dog!… Paul’s saying, “leash your mind!
          1. Isn’t that one of the 10 commandments, “don’t wander onto your neighbors yard & start coveting his house, wife, servants, animals, or anything that is his.” Ex.20:17
          2. Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 2 Cor.10:5b
            1. Sometimes that takes the “pronged” choke chain!
          3. Your mind needs different leashes at different times!
    5. Homework – Come up with a few examples of each of the 8.
      1. What’s opposite? When your mind is thinking on things that are false; low morals; unjust; impure; unlovely; bad reports.
        1. ​​​​​​​(i.e.) Whatever things are true (don’t believe their lies, what does Scripture say on it?) Shift your impure thoughts to pure thoughts!
        2. Then store em up in your mind. Let them become like an I.V. Drip; dripping these thoughts deep into your soul, when needed!
      2. Your mind has to be thinking about something! (to stop thinking about red, you don’t try to stop thinking about red; but start thinking about green!)
    7. (9) These do! - these practice. Continuity & repetition of practice. (LKGNT)
      1. So, practice as a habit & continue to do them.
      2. They learned from Paul’s example. They received a wealth of knowledge. They Heard his great teachings. They Saw a super example in him.
        1. Q: Do you have someone who is a positive model to you?
        2. No? Grab an inspiring biography (missionary, preacher, man/women of faith)
    8. The God of Peace - The only one who can bring a Higher Peace than the worlds peace, is the One who Transcends the world around us.
      1. When you’re trying to get to sleep at night & you can’t because of anxiety, listen to God’s whisper, “Go ahead & sleep now, I’ll sit up!”
      2. “There is nothing too great for God’s Power; & nothing too small for His Fatherly Care!” (Barclay)
      3. Worry only: Postpones Prayer; Pillages the Peace of God; Pinches off Positive Thoughts; Pounds Positive Models; & Puts off the Potentate of Peace!
    9. CONTENTMENT & CHRIST! (10-13)
    10. (11b) Don’t picture Paul writing at a desk in an office, but from a dark prison cell.
    11. (12) Verse 13 is connected to vs.12!
      1. Be Content to live in Plenty or Poverty!
        1. We must be able to mount up w/wings like eagles, but we must also know how to come down! (eagles don’t only ride the high winds. In Alaska they sit on the beaches!)
        2. Q: Are we able to live in life’s Valley’s?
        3. Being able to “do all things” was referring to mostly things of abasement, hunger, & when we suffer needs!
        4. (Message) I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.
    12. Let’s mount back up with the Eagles.
      1. Some have learned to be abased, but not how to abound!
      2. Sometimes I believe it’s easier being a Beagle rather than an Eagle!
      3. Q: Have you ever felt dizzy when you reached a mnt. peak? (so do some Christians!)
      4. Q: On a Roller Coaster which is scarier: Dip at the bottom or Pinnacle at top?
      5. Q: Is it easier to carry a cup that is ½ full or one that is full?
        1. More Christians seem to bring more disgrace to the name of Christ in Prosperity than in Adversity!
        2. We need to learn how to sail w/a faint breeze or in a powerful gale!
      6. Our Prayer: “Lord, Teach us how to be full. Let not the gifts Your love gives, estrange our hearts from You!”
    13. (13) Where do you put the emphasis on this verse? On, I can or on through Christ?
    14. The secret of the “I can” life lies in the 2 words...through Christ!
      1. That is the secret of spiritual victory...through Christ!
    15. I believe too many have read this verse like the man who in reading through his bible for the 1st time, ran to the bottom of the page which read, “I can do all things.”
      1. He thought, “now Paul you’ve taken it too far!” Then he turned the page… “through Christ who strengthens me.”
      2. I think so many that use this verse, only hear the first part!
        1. There’s noting more pathetic than wishful thinking!
        2. It’s not Positive Thinking: someone defined as self improvement by self-deception!
        3. The true Christian position is to accept that which God appoints, & to say, “I can do all things through Christ!”
      3. Story: John Henry Jowett told about a small village where an elderly woman died. She died “penniless, uneducated, unsophisticated”, but during her lifetime her selfless service had made a tremendous impact for Christ. On her tombstone they chiseled the words, "She did what she couldn't."
    16. Paul never said: (Swindoll)
      ​​​​​​​I can do all things through Education! I can do all things through Money!
      I can do all things through Power!
      I can do all things through Positive Thinking!
      I can do all things through Confidence in myself!
    17. Who strengthens me - So, how can I live the can do life? Well, this is how…I can do all things through Christ, when I allow Him to do all things through me!
      1. I can heal this marriage through Christ, when I allow Him to do all things through me!
      2. I can battle this addiction through Christ, when I allow Him to do all things through me!
      3. I can say no to ________ through Christ, when I allow Him to do all things through me!
      4. I can find my career through Christ, when I allow Him to do all things through me!
    18. So, we learned last week, when anxiety appears, the cure is Prayer! This week Paul adds, When life is disorderly, the cure is mental & practical discipline.
    19. He who made the little slave-baby the strong champion of the Exodus; & the shepherd-lad the slayer of Goliath; & the captive Daniel prime minister of mighty Babylon; He who transformed Simon to Cephas, Saul into Paul, & has made 1000’s of his humble followers spiritual giants, can enable you & me to do all things if we live in the secret of that little phrase, “through Christ”!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Brian Bell Commentary". 2017.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


‘Think on these things.’

Philippians 4:8

This age has been called an age of growth, and so in many ways it is—growth of empire, of commerce, of wealth, of population, and an improvement in physique.

But what of spiritual growth? There is a growth in organisations, in spiritual activities, in spiritual fuss, but this is only the scaffolding; the building itself grows but little. What is the remedy? We find it in the first word of our text, ‘Think.’

I. Get time to think.—It is more necessary than many realise; it is indeed absolutely necessary, for without time to think our spiritual life cannot grow. We hear too much of the voice of man. Get time to hear the voice of God.

II. Acquire the habit of thinking.—The mind quickly forms habits just as the body does, and if those habits are habits of idleness, or day-dreams, or vanity, the mind will soon become useless for thinking. Discipline your mind! Keep still and think. Think deeply, and so become deep. Think regularly, and so acquire the habit of thinking.

III. What shall we think?—It is a good thing to drive out wrong and impure thoughts from our hearts—we must do so; but unless we obtain good thoughts to fill their place the evil thoughts will return with sevenfold force. What, then, shall we think? ‘Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there be any virtue, any praise, think on these things.’ That is the great remedy for our lack of spiritual growth. The scaffolding is here; let us build up the spiritual building.

Bishop A. N. Thomas.



One party in the modern Church might wish the Apostle to have said, Think on your baptism and your covenanted privileges; and another, Think on your conversion. What he actually says is, Think on all things beautiful and good.

I. Thus to write, in the capacity of a teacher of religion, was distinctively Christian.—How vital a thing it is, for the great majority of men and women, whose only abstract thinking is about religion, to have purity and goodness consecrated.

II. It is another mighty corrective (and it is required for the efficiency of the first) that we should learn to appraise aright all things true and beautiful. To do this will rebuke our greed, and calm our passions, and strengthen every noble impulse and desire.

III. This advice becomes a Christian teacher still more, because all such thinking leads up straight to the Cross of the Redeemer.—For in the same proportion in which inward things predominate over show and the senses and the world—self-control over appetite, self-sacrifice over indulgence—as purity and love become precious, and vileness more terrible than pain, so does the great life, the great sacrifice, the supernatural personality of Jesus our Lord become at once credible and splendid; and the visage that was more marred than that of any man is seen to be the fairest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely.

IV. One cannot think long upon such matters and continue indifferent to Him.—No; nor fail to confess the need of Him.

Bishop G. A. Chadwick.


‘Wherever you discern moral obligation or moral charm, the Apostle says not, Do homage to this, nor even, Work this out in your external conduct, though he very certainly expects that both these results will follow. But rather he says, Let it sink in; take stock of it; reckon it up: let your intelligence play upon it—for such is the meaning of his expression. And this is the one thing which we most need to-day, a dominant interest in really high concerns.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary


Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for ( Philippians 4:1 ),

What a beautiful words by Paul to the church, expressing his heart, just bearing his heart to them, "Dearly beloved, I long for you. My brothers, who I dearly love and I long for,"

[You are] my joy and [you are] my crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved ( Philippians 4:1 ).

The heart of the apostle. He is bearing his heart now, his love for those who he ministered to and those who ministered to him. Now, there were a couple of women in Philippi who were having an argument, a fight. That"s not becoming the church, so Paul said,

I beseech Euodia ( Philippians 4:2 ),

And the s isn"t there, it is just, the s would make it a masculine name, but in the Greek, unfortunately, it is a feminine name, Euodia,

and I beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord ( Philippians 4:2 ).

Now, let"s not argue, let"s not fight, let"s not create division within the body. Let"s be of the same mind in the Lord.

And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow ( Philippians 4:3 ),

Now, we don"t know who Paul is referring to here. There have been a lot of guesses. Probably all of them are wrong. But the yokefellow would be one who had labored together. Maybe he was writing to the Philippian jailer who had been converted. There are some, I think it was Tertullium, one of the early church fathers, said he was writing her to his wife. But that hardly seems possible.

help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other of my other fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life ( Philippians 4:3 ).

When Paul went to Philippi, he first shared the gospel by the river where a group of ladies had gathered together for prayer. Among them, Lydia, you remember, the seller of purple. And having shared with the women, the following week they told their friends, and a big crowd of people gathered to hear Paul share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because many of the women believed and were saved and baptized, and so the work of God really began with women, and they had a very important part in the ministry in the church in Philippi. And so, "Help those women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, my fellow laborers, whose names are in the Book of Life."

In Luke"s gospel, chapter10, there is the report of the disciples who had been sent out by Jesus, two by two, the seventy of them. And they came back and they said, "Lord, it was fantastic. A lot of people were healed; people who were blind, their eyes were opened. And Lord, even the devils were subject unto us." And Jesus said to them, "Don"t rejoice in these things, but rejoice rather that your name is written in heaven." Hey, that is the most important thing. There is nothing more important to me that my name is written in heaven. Not in what God is done through my life, that is not so important is that my name be written in heaven. That"s what is really important to me. God has a book of life. It is exciting to realize that my name is there in His Book of Life.

We read in Revelation 20:1-15 of the great white throne judgment of God, "And the books were open, and the people were judged out of the things that were written in the book, and death and hell gave up their dead, and they were judged, and whosoever name was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into Gehenna and this is the second death." But there again, the mention of the Book of Life. It is interesting to me that God has this book in heaven, the Book of Life, and the names of those who are heirs of the heavenly kingdom, ordained of God to share, and He has inscribed their names in the Book of Life.

Now, when did God write my name in the Book of Life? When did He write your name in the Book of Life? You say, "Well, I was saved on October2, 1968, so I guess God wrote my name in the Book of Life October2, l968." No! We read in the book of Revelation that our names were written in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world. How could He do that? Because He is God, and He is smarter than you are, because He is omniscient, He knows all things. And if God ever . . . well, because He knows all things, He can"t learn anything. It is impossible for God to learn anything. So, if God ever is to know who is going to be saved, He has always known who is going to be saved, and having always known those that were going to be saved, He wrote their names in the Book of Life before the foundation of the earth. Aren"t you glad? He knew you and wrote your name there before He ever laid the foundations of the earth. "Whose names were written in the Book of Life," from the foundations of the earth. And so those fellow laborers, Paul said, "Whose names are written in the Book of Life." Something that Jesus mentions, something that Paul mentions, something that John mentions in the book of Revelation. Now,

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice ( Philippians 4:4 ).

Again, notice the rejoicing is in the Lord. There is always cause for rejoicing in the Lord. I can rejoice because He wrote my name in His Book of Life before the foundation of the world. Oh, thank you, Lord. I can rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. A sad, sour Christian is no real witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand ( Philippians 4:5 ).

That is, live moderately, don"t live extravagantly. There"s no place in the Christian life for extravagant living. Live moderately. Why? Because the Lord is at hand. Don"t get too involved in the things of the world, the Lord"s coming.

Be careful [or anxious] for nothing [don"t worry about anything]; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God ( Philippians 4:6 ).

The answer for worry is prayer. Prayer and commitment, those things that concern me, those things that are prone to cause me to worry are the very things I need to be praying about. And once I pray about them, I need to just trust God to take care of them. I need to know that once I commit them to God, they are in His hands and He will work them out for His glory. Now, it may not be for my pleasure, it may not be like I want it to be, but I thank God I"m not in control. I thank God that He is in control of the circumstances that surround me. If I were in control of my life, I could make the worst mess of my life thinking that I was just doing what was good. But, you know, if you just let a kid go, they will just eat ice cream sundaes and nothing else. And so I would order my life, you know, make it sweet, make it delectable, put hot fudge and whipped cream on top and toasted almonds, you know. I want a bed of roses, Lord. I want to take it easy. But it doesn"t always work out that way. Many times there are hardships, there are difficulties. There are things that I don"t understand, but my faith is being tested, and my faith is being developed because I"m learning to trust in God even when I can"t see the way. And though it doesn"t fall the way I would like it to fall, I still trust the Lord and I learn that He has a better plan. Yes, it was tough, yes, I did hurt, yes, there was suffering. But ohhh the lessons that I learned that I wouldn"t trade for anything, because I grew immensely and my walk and relationship with God has been enhanced by the whole thing. And I count that which I gained in my relationship with Him far more than the struggle that I went through.

We used to hear down in the south that song, "Farther along we"ll know all about it. Farther along we"ll understand why. Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine. We"ll understand it all by and by." It was written during the depression years, I think. Hard times down in the south. Song of encouragement.

They that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. It"s not going to be easy, but the Lord is going to be there. And the Lord will give you strength, and the Lord will help you. So, the worries, the concerns, the anxieties, pray about them, give them over to the Lord, cast all of your cares on Him, because He cares for you.

And so, with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, three aspects of prayer. Prayer itself is very broad term that describes communion with God. Prayer is not a monologue; it is a dialogue. And it is important that we wait for God to speak to us, as well as to speak to God. So many people consider prayer a monologue. I want to go in and talk to God, and I do all of the talking, and when I am finished talking, I get up and leave. I never wait for God to respond or to answer. Through the years, I have come to the conclusion that it is more important that God talk to me than I talk to God. I am convinced that what God has to say to me is far more important than what I have to say to God. And I have sought to develop that listening side of prayer. The communion, prayer is communion with God. Listening for Him to speak to my heart. Laying my heart out before Him, waiting upon Him, worshipping Him, loving Him, all a part of prayer. Another part of prayer is supplication: my requests, where I present to God those needs of my life, those needs in the lives of those around me. The supplications are personal, but they can also go into intercession. So, there is request, and in the narrow sense, for my own needs, and then in the broader sense, for the needs of those around me, the intercessory prayer. And then there is that thanksgiving aspect of prayer.

Now, as we look at the Lord"s prayer as a model, "Our Father, which art in heaven, and hallowed be thou name," you see it begins with the acknowledgment of God and the greatness and the glory of God. The name of God, hallowed be that name, reverend be that name. Petitions in a broad sense, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth even as it is in heaven." Petitions in a narrow sense, "Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil." Praise, glory, thanksgiving, "For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." So it begins with worship, it ends with worship, sandwiched in between, our petitions and intercession. And so, we find prayer, supplications, thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God.

And the peace of God [the result of this will be the peace of God], which passeth all [human] understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus ( Philippians 4:7 ).

You will experience such peace. "Hey, what are you going to do?" "Well, I have prayed about it." "Yah, but what are you going to do about it?" "Well, I have already done it, I have prayed." "Yah, but you can"t just pray; you have got to do more than that." "Now God is going to take care of it. I have peace. It is in God"s hands; I have turned it over to Him. I am not struggling with it anymore. I am not wrestling with the issues anymore; I have turned them over to God, and now I am going to rest in Him. I am going to have an experience." That peace that passeth human understanding, passes your own understanding. You can"t understand how that you can feel such peace in the midst of such turmoil.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things ( Philippians 4:8 ).

That pretty well eliminates television, doesn"t it? Of all of the mental pollution that is going out night after night over the major networks. Our whole nation is being polluted by the television industry and by the movie industry. I mean, it is leading the nation right down the tubes. Why? Because it is having people think on things that are impure, unholy, filthy, unrighteous, immoral, and there is other things we need to be thinking on. Sort of tragic, a lot of people watch television just before they go to sleep, because you plant that junk in your mind just before you drop off.

You know, I have found that what I plant in my mind the last thing at night before I go to sleep is something that sticks with me. I learned as a child that I can memorize any poem by reading it over three times before I went to sleep. In the morning I could get up and recite it. Poems of several pages, all I do is read them over three times before I went to sleep, and in the morning I could recite them. Because it seems like during the night, what you plant just before you go to sleep has a way of your mind continuing to work on it.

And many areas across the United States we have begun our Word for Today broadcast on many stations now Acts 10:00 o"clock at night. And a lot of people have gotten in the habit of setting their clocks on the radios to, you know, from Philippians 10:00 to Philippians 10:30,then, you know, and I put them to sleep every night. What a wonderful thing. The last thing in the night to be planting in your mind: that which is pure, that which is true, that which is honest, that which is just, that which is lovely, that which is of virtue and good report, think on these things. Interesting how we like to think on other things, isn"t it? The hurts, the disappointments, the nasty thing that he said to me. Here is a good model to follow, I think that somewhere around the house we ought to put up, "True, Honest, Just, Pure," that our minds, we gear them toward these things.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me ( Philippians 4:9 ),

Paul the apostle, when he was talking with the elders at Ephesus, he said, "I was daily with you teaching you and showing you." It was show and tell with Paul. His life was the example of that which he was preaching, and so should it always be. It isn"t just the proclaiming of the truth, it is the demonstration of the truth. And so Paul tells them, "Those things which ye have learned, and received, and heard, and you have seen in me, I set the example before you."

do [them]: and the God of peace shall be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity ( Philippians 4:9-10 ).

In other words, "You were anxious to send me some help, but you lacked opportunity. " Epaphroditus, you remember, had come to Rome, with a offering from the church in Philippi for Paul. And so, the care of him has flourished again. They sent him a very generous offering. They desired to do it before now, but, of course, he had been on his way from a Caesarea to Rome. He had been on that ship that was wrecked and spent a lot of time; they weren"t able to catch up with him. But now, finally, that he is sitting there in prison in Rome, they are able to get to him again, and they send this offering. And so he thanks them that this care for him is flourished again.

Not that I speak in respect of want ( Philippians 4:11 ):

It is not that I really am, you know, desperately in need. It isn"t that I have tremendous needs while I am here.

for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content ( Philippians 4:11 ).

Oh, what a tremendous lesson we need to learn. Because always the state that we are in might not be the most pleasant state to be in. Paul was in prison when he wrote this, chained twenty-four hours a day to a different Roman guard, as they would make their changes. And yet, content. "For I have learned whatever state I am in to be content."

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need ( Philippians 4:12 ).

It doesn"t matter to me; I can live with it, I can live without it. I have learned to be content with it. I have learned to be content without it. Whatever state God sees to put me, I am content, because my life is in God"s hands; He is in control of those things that surround me. He wrote, "Godliness with contentment is great riches." I have learned how to be content.

[For] I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me ( Philippians 4:13 ).

And there is the secret: I can abound, I can be poor, I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

In the fifteenth chapter of the gospel of John, as Jesus is talking about His relationship to His disciples, He said unto them, "I am the vine, ye the branches, my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that bears fruit, He washes it that it might bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean through the word which I"ve spoken unto you. Abide in Me, and let My words abide in you, as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, neither more can ye except you abide in Me, for without Me you can do nothing."

Do you believe that? I didn"t for a long time. The Lord had to prove that to me. I thought there was something I could do worthwhile in my flesh. And I tried too long to offer to God the sacrifices of my flesh. But one day, after years of struggle, I came to the truth of the statement of Christ and realized the truth of it, apart from Him I could do nothing. But thank God, in the same day I also learned the truth that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And so, rather than being all wiped out because I can"t do anything in myself, I rejoice because of what I can do in Him. I can do all things through Christ. There are two verses I count extremely important in my own experience. Vitally important. To learn those two verses is vital to Christian growth. "Apart from me you can do nothing," Jesus said. But Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Notwithstanding, ye have done well, that ye did communicate with my affliction [to my needs]. Now ye Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia [Philippi was in the area of Macedonia], no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only ( Philippians 4:14-15 ).

When I left you, you were the only church. Now, there was a church at Thessalonica, Paul established the church of Berea. They didn"t do anything for him. The only church that really sought to help Paul and support that ministry was the church of Philippi.

For even in Thessalonica [when I was there] ye sent once and again unto my necessity [to take care of my needs]. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account ( Philippians 4:16-17 ).

I love that. Paul was thanking them for what they sent, "not because I desire a gift. I desire that fruit might abound to your account." Now, God has a very interesting bookkeeping system. And in God"s bookkeeping system, your investments that you make in the kingdom of God bring fruit to your account. Jesus said, "Don"t lay up for yourself treasures on earth where moth and rust can corrupt and decay and thieves can break through and steal. But lay up for yourself treasures in heaven where these things cannot happen, for where your treasure is there will your heart be also."

God accounts to the person who supports the missionary the fruit that comes from the missionary"s service. How can they hear without a preacher? How can they preach except they be sent? So, those that send share equally in the fruit of the ministry of those who go. That is why in supporting a ministry, I want to be very careful what ministry I support. I want to make sure that it is an effective ministry, doing a good work for God. Because there is a lot of charlatans out there that are padding their own pockets and not really doing a real service for God.

We were in Goroka, New Guinea, a beautiful place, sort of an ideal place to live. Weather is perfect year around. And just up in the highlands in New Guinea just beautiful, beautiful streams, beautiful forest, beautiful place to live. And as they were taking us through there, they said there is just a lot of paper missionaries here. And I said, "Paper missionaries, what do you mean?" And he said there are a lot of people who have retired here in Goroka who get their support by writing letters to people in the United States and Australia and England, sharing with them the ministry here among the New Guinea people. And what they do is, they get in their Land Rovers and they go out to the villages and they pass out candy to the children. And they will take pictures of the children reaching out for candy. And then they will send these pictures and letters back to the people and say, you know, "The children are reaching out for the New Testaments that we are passing out in the villages and all, and look at how, you know, all of the children, and all, had a tremendous response and God is doing a glorious work and all." And people are supporting them. Yet, they are just retired; they don"t do anything but go out to the village once a month to take pictures of kids getting candy. Unfortunately, those people do exist. Frauds, charlatans, they"ll have to answer to God.

The World Counsel of Churches uses a portion of their funds to support terrorist groups in Africa, supporting the P.L.O. their terrorism programs. A lot of missionaries were killed in Zabway by the terrorists, missionary children, by the dollars given in the churches that have a part in the National Counsel of Churches and the World Counsel of Churches.

I wouldn"t give a dime to any church that"s affiliated with the World Counsel of Churches, knowing that a portion of that dime would be going to support the World Counsel of Churches. I don"t want to be giving money to terrorists in Africa who are murdering missionaries and their families. Nor would I want to be supporting Angelia Davis"s defense, which received a generous contribution from the National Counsel of Churches. Careful where you invest. Paul said, "That fruit might abound to your account." Well, there is some kind of fruit that I really don"t want to my account. And thus, I don"t want to invest in that. I want to know that there is a valid and legitimate work being done, and that it is a fruit-bearing work, that fruit might abound. I want to support that kind of work.

And so Paul said, "Not that I desire a gift. I desire that fruit might abound to your account."

But [I have everything] I have all, I abound ( Philippians 4:18 ):

Got plenty. What a beautiful thing to say even though you"re broke. I have all, I abound. Why? Because I have Jesus. That"s enough.

I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell [Probably some cologne, I guess], a sacrifice acceptable, [and] well-pleasing to God. But my God shall supply all of your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus ( Philippians 4:18-19 ).

Isn"t that a glorious promise? Take hold of it tonight. My God shall supply all of your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now who can measure that kind of riches? If God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how much more then shall He not freely give us all things?

Now unto God and our Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Salute [greet] every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar"s household ( Philippians 4:20-22 ).

As Paul was chained to the Roman guard, those were Caesar"s guards, and so many of Caesar"s household send their greetings through Paul, who had received Christ because Paul"s imprisonment there.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen ( Philippians 4:23 ).

Beautiful, beautiful epistle to the Philippians, and now the glorious epistle to the Colossians; next week, the first two chapters. The preeminence of Jesus Christ. Aw, this one just lifts you into glory as we behold Jesus Christ our Lord, and we see the preeminence that God has given unto Him. The preeminence of Christ. The book of Colossians, one that will enrich us so completely as we study it together.

And now may God cause you to abound in love and in your walk in the Spirit. And may indeed you find the promise to be true as God supplies all of your needs: spiritual, financial, physical, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus our Lord. God bless and keep you and give you a beautiful week. In Jesus" name. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Final Charge. Acknowledgement of Philippian Bounty

VI. Closing Exhortations (Philippians 4:1-9)

§ 15. Philippians 4:1-3. With heightened feeling St. Paul resumes the vein of exhortation commenced in Philippians 3:1 : Wherefore (in view of the grand hope of our calling).. so stand fast in the Lord (see Philippians 1:27)—'so,' i.e. in 'imitating' the Apostle and 'marking those' of like 'walk' (Philippians 3:17); this appeal sums up the foregoing homily. For the endearing epithets accumulated here, cp. Philippians 1:3-8; Philippians 2:16-17 also 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 1 Thessalonians 2:20.

2. The entreaty to Euodia and Syntyche to be of one mind in the Lord, is a pointed application of Philippians 1:27 and Philippians 2:1-5 they have a serious difference of judgment in carrying out the will of Christ. These ladies bear good Greek names; one of them is, possibly, the same as the Lydia of Acts 16, the latter name in that case being an ethnic appellation ('the Lydian'). As at Thessalonica (Acts 17:4), women were conspicuous amongst the earliest converts in Philippi: see Intro.

3. The Gk. 'Synzygos' (yoke-fellow) is better read as a proper name, on which the Apostle plays, as upon 'Onesimus' (serviceable) in Phlippians 1:11 : Yea, I ask also thee, true Synzygos—worthy of thy name—help them (Euodia and Syntyche) to come to an understanding. Others suppose Epaphroditus to be addressed as 'yokefellow': cp. Philippians 2:25. The disagreeing women had shared St. Paul's struggles (this Gk. verb is rendered striving together in Philippians 1:27) in the gospel,—a fact which makes him specially anxious for their reconciliation. With these former comrades St. Paul associates a certain Clement otherwise unknown (hardly the Clement of Rome, famous a generation later), and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life (see Revelation 3:5, etc., Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23),-and therefore need not be enumerated here.

§ 16. Philippians 4:4-7. Joy in the Lord, and the peace of God, are the sovereign factors in the Christian temper (Philippians 4:4, Philippians 4:7); these manifest themselves in gentleness (RM; AV 'moderation') toward men, and serenity (In nothing be anxious, RV) in all events, maintained by continual prayer and thanksgiving. Philippians 4:4 repeats, with resolute emphasis, the command of Philippians 3:1 : see note.

5. Gentleness (ascribed, under the same word, to Christ in 2 Corinthians 10:1) is the opposite of self-assertion and rivalry. Like 'patience' in James 5:8, it is enforced by the nearness of the Lord's advent, the prospect of which quenches worldly passions: cp. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Luke 12:29-40. Though we may not think of the second coming of Christ as at hand in the sense in which the first Christians did, our appearance at His judgment-seat is no less certain, and the thought of it should affect us in the same way.

6. Anxiety is precluded by the direction, let your requests be made known unto God—since 'he careth for you' (1 Peter 5:7 cp. Matthew 6:31-32). Prayer is devout address to God in general, supplication the specific appeal for help, and request the particular petition made. In everything includes temporal with spiritual needs, covering all occasions of anxiety.

7. The peace of God is that which ensues on reconciliation through Christ and the bestowment of the Holy Spirit, who breathes the Father's love into the heart: see Romans 5:1-2, Romans 5:8-11; Ephesians 2:13-18. The consciousness of this fortifies the mind against trouble: it shall guard (or garrison) your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. God's peace surpasses (AV 'passes': the same word was rendered 'better than' in Philippians 2:3, and 'excellency' in Philippians 3:8) all reason (Gk. nous) in its fortifying power. Greek philosophy sought in Reason the prophylactic against care and fear; the true remedy is found in Christ.

§ 17. Philippians 4:8, Philippians 4:9. The real Finally is now reached: see on Philippians 3:1. The list of virtues here commended is unique in St. Paul's writings, resembling the catalogues of Greek moralists; its items belong to natural ethics. These things, St. Paul says, take account of (RM); i.e. reckon and allow for (the verb of Philippians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 13:5, etc.): he desiderates in the readers a larger appreciation of goodness, a catholic moral taste—mark the reiterated whatsoever. This Church was intensely devoted, but intellectually narrow (see on Philippians 1:9),—a defect naturally aggravated by persecution. Hence the stress laid on 'gentleness' in Philippians 4:5, and on the amenities of life in Philippians 4:8. Things true and honourable (to be revered) constitute the integrities of personal character; things pure and just represent the moralities, and things amiable and winning the graces, of social life. The further expressions, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise (aught to be praised), bring in every conceivable form and instance of moral excellence. Virtue—the ruling category of heathen ethics—figures only in this passage of St. Paul; the Apostle is seeking common ethical ground as between the Church and Gentile society. The Christian man must prize every fragment of human worth, claiming it for God.

9. So much for reflexion and appreciation; for practice, the writer points once more, as in Philippians 3, to himself,—to his personal teaching (what things you both learned and received) and behaviour (and heard of and saw in me). The God of peace shall be with you is a virtual repetition of Philippians 4:7 : men of large-hearted charity and steadfast loyalty dwell in God's peace amidst all storms.

VII. Acknowledgement of the Contribution from Philippi (Philippians 4:10-20)

§ 18. Philippians 4:10-16. With the Benediction of Philippians 4:9 (cp. Romans 15:33) the letter might have ended; but St. Paul in sending back Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-30) desires to make ample recognition of the gift conveyed by him, and has reserved this matter to the last. The remittance had surely been acknowledged earlier; communications had been exchanged since Epaphroditus' arrival in Rome: see Intro. It looks as though the Philippians had been grieved in some way over the reception of their contribution. Perhaps the Apostle's former acknowledgment through its brevity was open to misconstruction. With care and earnestness he now endeavours to set himself right with his friends:—'Greatly was I gladdened,' he writes, 'that now once again you have blossomed out in your thoughtfulness for me; indeed, you were thinking of me in this way before, but you lacked opportunity to show it.' The recent gift was the revival of the care for the Apostle's wants shown by the Philippians at an earlier time; no other Church had so markedly proved its gratitude in this kind (Philippians 4:15). The readers are aware of this fact (Moreover ye yourselves know, ye Philippians); they had probably referred to it, in their Church letter, with pardonable pride. In the beginning of the gospel means at the time of its coming to these regions (cp. Philippians 1:5); in the matter of giving and receiving (RV) might be rendered 'by way of credit and debit account' (cp. 1 Corinthians 9:11; Galatians 6:6; Phlippians 1:18-19)—a mercantile idiom. When I went out from Macedonia refers to contributions sent to the writer at Athens or Corinth (see 2 Corinthians 11:7-10); even before this, during the short time he stayed in Thessalonica, they had helped him once and again (Philippians 4:16).

In the intervening passage (Philippians 4:11-14) St. Paul explains his attitude. He does not speak as though in want and dependent on such support; he has learned to be self sufficient (content) under all conditions. I know, he continues, how to be abased (by poverty: see 1 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 11:9, 2 Corinthians 11:27; Acts 20:34), and I know also how to be in affluence; in every variety of state and circumstance, I have become versed (lit. 'initiated') both in feasting and hungering, both in affluence and destitution. Thrice St. Paul speaks of his 'abundance' (Philippians 4:12 and Philippians 4:18); and this bears out the conjecture of Sir W. M. Ramsay, suggested by the heavy cost entailed in the 'appeal to Cæsar' (Acts 25:11-12) and the unlikelihood of his taxing the Churches for this purpose, that he had by this time come into the inheritance of property and is no longer a poor man. If this was so, then St. Paul is thinking of the trials of both estates when he says, I am equal to everything, in him that enables me (Philippians 4:13): cp. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 1:29. He rejoices, therefore, in the gift of the Philippians for their sake rather than his own (Philippians 4:14): Howbeit ye did well, that ye had fellowship with my affliction (showed sympathy with my persecuted condition)—not, as 'in Thessalonica,' with 'my need' (Philippians 4:16).

§ 19. Philippians 4:17-20. Hence the Apostle was not eager for the gift (as a boon to himself), but for the evidence it afforded of God's grace in the givers (cp. Philippians 1:11; 2 Corinthians 9:6-11; Ephesians 5:9)—the fruit that increaseth to your account. But I have enough and to spare; I am filled full—in satisfaction of mind as of bodily wants (cp. Philippians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 7:4)—now that I have received from Epaphroditus what you have sent,—a fragrant savour, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God (cp. Hebrews 13:16): the religious, not the material value of the gift weighs with its receiver.

19. Since the offering is a sacrifice to God, He will recompense it (cp. Hebrews 6:10; Proverbs 19:17): my God will fill up every need of yours—as you have striven to meet His servant's need—according to his riches. Temporal and spiritual needs are together included in the promise; God's 'wealth' contains all kinds of treasure. In glory points to the heavenly consummation (cp. Romans 2:4, Romans 2:7; Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 1:18), in Christ Jesus to the ground and channel of divine supplies.

20. The Doxology (cp. 2 Corinthians 9:15, in relation to its context) magnifies the bountiful Giver as our Father: see Matthew 6:8, Matthew 6:32.

§ 20. Philippians 4:21-23. In conclusion, the Apostle bids a greeting to every saint in Christ Jesus—his good will knows no exception: see Philippians 1:1, Philippians 1:4, Philippians 1:7-8; With his own he sends greetings from his companions, from the whole Roman Church, and particularly from those of Cæsar's household (to think of Christians in Nero's house!)—the latter singled out because their salutation would peculiarly touch the Philippians: see Intro. The circumstances of his captivity and trial brought the Apostle into contact with the palace and the imperial attendants; friends in that quarter were specially serviceable to him.

23. The Benediction (RV) is nearly identical with that of Galatians, Phlippians, and 2 Timothy.

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Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

C. Specific duties4:2-9

This last section ( Philippians 4:2-9) of the body of the epistle ( Philippians 1:27 to Philippians 4:9) deals with the same two subjects as the preceding two sections, unity and steadfastness, but in more detail. Paul gave his readers specific instructions about what they should do. Unity needed restoring, and steadfastness needed encouraging.

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Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

2. Maintaining tranquillity4:4-9

Paul gave his readers five other brief positive exhortations, all of which are vitally important for individual and corporate Christian living. They all result in the maintenance of peace in the body so the saints can work together effectively as partners in the gospel even in the midst of opposing unbelievers.

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Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

This "Finally" signals the last of the three imperatives that explain how to stand firm ( Philippians 4:1; cf. Philippians 4:2; Philippians 4:4). It also introduces Paul"s next to the last exhortation in this list that deals with what the believer should spend his or her time thinking about. This subject obviously relates to prayer since both activities involve mental concentration.

"True" (alethe) means valid, honest, and reliable (cf. Romans 3:4).

"Honorable" or "noble" (semna) means worthy of respect (cf. Proverbs 8:6; 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:2).

"Right" (dikaia) refers to what is just and upright.

"Pure" (hagna) denotes cleanness and connotes moral purity.

"Lovely" (prosphile) means what is amiable, agreeable, or pleasing.

"In common parlance, this word could refer to a Beethoven symphony, as well as to the work of Mother Teresa among the poor of Calcutta; the former is lovely and enjoyable, the latter is admirable as well as moral." [Note: Fee, Paul"s Letter . . ., p418.]

"Of good repute" or "admirable" (euphema) refers to what is praiseworthy because it measures up to the highest standards.

Paul listed these virtues like contemporary moral philosophers of his day taught, namely, by reciting catalogues of virtues and vices. [Note: Hawthorne, p187.]

The conditional clause structure at the end of this sentence is a rhetorical device. It places the responsibility on the reader to make his or her own decision regarding what is excellent and praiseworthy. [Note: Kent, p152.]

". . . Paul seems to be drawing upon the cultural background of the Philippians and is saying to them: "If there is such a thing as moral excellence, and you believe there is. If there is a kind of behavior that elicits universal approval, and you believe there Isaiah," then continue to strive for this goodness and to attain to this level of behavior that will command the praise of men and of God." [Note: Hawthorne, p186.]

"We are responsible for our thoughts and can hold them to high and holy ideals." [Note: Robertson, 4:460.]

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Meyer's Devotional Commentary on Philippians


Philippians 4:8-9

The God of Peace.

We last spoke about the peace of God which, like a white-robed sentry, keeps the heart with its affections, and thoughts, with all their busy and sometimes too promiscuous crowd. We have now to speak about the God of peace; and blessed though the peace of God may be, to have the God from whose nature peace emanates is infinitely preferable. One main constituent of our text is the word think; another the word do.

Thinking and doing are the conditions on which the God of peace will tarry in the heart. To think rightly, and to do rightly—these will bring the blessed dove of heaven to brood in the nest of your soul. Almost everything in life depends on the thoughts, as the forest lies in the acorn, and Scripture itself lays stress upon this. The wise may says: "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life;" and, again, we have it: "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." In this context we notice that the peace of God is to keep our thoughts; and, again, our text says: "Think on these things." The control of your thought, the government of your mind, this is all important for three reasons.

Thinking and Doing.

(1) Because thinking about things prepares you for doing them. If you allow a matter to revolve in your mind, if you turn it over and over and consider it from every aspect, and dwell upon it, it becomes comparatively easy to do it. It is as though the thoughts lay down the tram lines, upon which presently the car of action proceeds. The thoughts lay the wires which presently convey the message. No doubt many of you have again and again experienced this, that when you have come to some great crisis in your life, you have passed through it with perfect ease, because you had so often rehearsed the matter. When you came to act, it was as though you had passed through the experience before, your thought had so entirely prepared you for it. It is of the utmost importance therefore that you take care what you think, because thought is the precursor, herald, and forerunner of action.

Thought and Character.

(2) Thought is also important, because it has a reflex effect upon the whole character. As you think, so you are almost without knowing it. Wordsworth refers to this; he says:

"We live by admiration, love, and hope;

As these are well and wisely fixed,

In dignity of being we ascend."

If a man cherishes bad thoughts, almost unwittingly he deteriorates; he cannot help it. There is a profound philosophy in Romans 1:1-32, where it says that because they refused to retain God in their minds but cherished their vile lusts, God gave them up to their passions to defile themselves. If a man is perpetually cherishing unholy, impure, and untrue thoughts, he will become an unholy, impure, and untrue man. Our character takes on the complexion and hue of our inward thinking. If a man is ever cherishing noble thoughts, he cannot help becoming noble; if he is generous in his thought, he will be in his act; if he is loving and tender in his thought, he will be loving and tender in his bearing. Thoughts are the looms in the wonderful machinery of the inner life, which are running day and night, and weaving the garments in which the soul shall be arrayed. If you will care for your thoughts, the thought will mould character reflexively and unconsciously.

Thought and Ideals.

(3) Thought affects us because we naturally pursue our ideals. Columbus, after long thinking, came to the conclusion that the earth was round, and that conviction determined him to launch his little boat and steer westward. Washington thought that government must be based on universal suffrage and free vote of the people, and this led to the formation of the United States. Wilberforce thought that every man was equally free in the sight of God, created and redeemed to be responsible to God only, apart from the holding of his fellow-man. Young men and women may read these words in whom great thoughts are formulating themselves, and if they are not to be mere enthusiasts, mere weak dreamers, the time must come when they will yoke the car of their thought to the star of their ideal, and presently a life will tower up before their fellows that shall leave a definite impression for blessing upon the race. If you are to be any more than a dreamer and enthusiast, young friend, your thought must, sooner or later, take shape in your industry and energy, even in the sweat of your brow, and the suffering of martyrdom.

Thought Often Unnoticed.

It is a remarkable touch in John Bunyan's description of Ignorance, as he walks beside the two elder pilgrims, that he says: "My heart is as good as any man's heart"—and adds, "As to my thoughts, I take no notice of them." Probably there are scores of people who take no notice of their thoughts. They leave the castle gate of their soul perfectly open for any intruder that may wish to enter, either from heaven or hell; and so it befalls that the thoughts of the world, of vanity, of impurity, thoughts which are inspired by demons, but which are arrayed in the garb of respectable citizens, pour into the great gateway of the soul, filling the courtyard with their tumultuous uproar. Without discrimination, thought, or care on their part, they allow themselves to be occupied and possessed with thoughts of which they have every reason to be ashamed; they teem in and out, and do just as they will. This is the reason why you sometimes find your heart filled with passion; it is because Guy Fawkes has entered in disguise with his fellow-conspirators, and under long flowing robes has introduced explosives. This is why our hearts become filled with hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness, with thoughts against God, and against our fellows. We do not watch the great courtyard gate.

Think Reverently.

Think carefully, think reverently, says the Apostle; take care how you think. We might almost say you can live as you like, if you are only careful how you think. At the great dock gates they will feel down the casual labourers before permitting them to enter the great warehouse, and again when they come out. We are told that in some of the great hospitals they will search the visitors, especially on Sunday afternoon, lest they should introduce deleterious food, which might neutralise the physicians' treatment. When there was the dynamite scare in London, how carefully the policeman examined everybody who had business in the House of Commons, lest a bomb might be introduced. If only we had a scrutator standing at the door of our heart to examine every thought as it entered; nay, if we could have there the Angel Ithuriel, of whom Milton speaks, and the touch of whose spear showed that the devil lurked in the toad that squatted by Eve's ear and whispered her his secret, how often in what seems a respectable thought entering the courtyard gate we should discover a traitor, who had come from the very pit to set our heart on fire with sin.

The Conflict of Thoughts.

It would appear that to arrest the tide of evil thoughts that threatens us is what St. Paul means when he says he is crucified with Christ. When newly converted there is nothing that we suffer from so much as the collision between the intrusion of those thoughts and the new divine principle, which has entered us. Just for a few hours watch carefully at the gateway of your hearts, and see if it be not sometimes almost an agony to exclude those which you must suspect. In beginning to do this, many would learn, perhaps for the first time, what the Cross of Christ means. It might bring the very perspiration to your forehead, in the awful conflict against certain fascinating thoughts, so winsome, so bright, so attractive, that offer themselves with the most insinuating grace. In earlier days, when one's standard was not quite so high, when one was less aware of the insidious temptation that lurks in the most graceful and attractive thoughts, one would have permitted them to enter, but now how great a fight goes on at the great gate of the soul, not only against bold bad thoughts, but against the more pleasing and seductive ones.

But supposing we were left merely with this constant watching and antagonising of evil thoughts, life would be almost intolerable. Remember, therefore, that not the negative only but the positive, not destruction only but construction, is the law of the Christian life. Not the grave of Christ, but the resurrection power, is our hope; and hence St. Paul says, "Think on these things"—and he gives you six standards of thoughts.

Think on the True.

"Whatsoever things are true." Keep out of your mind the false, but admit the true, because every life, every government, all politics, all business, all great commercial undertakings, all books and systems, which are not founded upon truth crumble sooner or later. If you could visit this world in the future, you would find that the falsehoods which now stalk across its arena, and seem as strong as thistles in spring, will have passed away. Consider things that are true.

On the Honourable.

"Whatsoever things are honourable." The word in the Greek is grave—reverent—respect-compelling—every-thing which is respectable, which makes for itself a court of respect. Exclude from your mind all that is dishonourable, and admit only what is worthy of God.

On the Just.

"Whatsoever things are just." Be absolutely just to other people in your estimate, in giving them their dues. If they be above you, criticise them justly; if on your level, deal with them as you would wish them to deal with you; if beneath you, be just. Everything unjust in speech or habit prohibit; everything which is just foster.

On the Pure.

"Whatsoever things are pure." Here is the fight for a young man's life, to arrest the impure, however bedizened and bedecked, and to admit into his heart only that which is perfectly pure, pure as the lily, as God's ether, as the light.

On the lovely.

"Whatsoever things are lovely.” That conduct which is consistent with 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, which proceeds from the heart of love and thaws the ice of selfishness, which has accumulated upon others.

And on the Things of Good Report.

"Whatsoever things are of good report." Like the elders who obtained a good report; like Mary, of whom Jesus said, "She hath clone what she could"; like the man with his ten talents, to whom the Lord said, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Anything, the Apostle says, which is virtuous, and anything which wins praise of God or man, think on these things.

Let these six sisters stand at the gateway of your soul, and challenge every thought as it offers itself, admitting only those thoughts which approve themselves as true, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. O God, let these six angels come into our souls, and from now until we meet Thee, let us give the entire control of our nature up to their serene, strong, wholesome restraint, that all that is inconsistent with them may be abashed, and everything which is consistent with them admitted to infill and dwell within us.

A High Ideal.

You say the ideal is high. Yes, but listen; we must believe that each of these attributes was won by Christ for us all—won by Him. They were native to Him but they were won because He pursued them through temptation. He kept them as His own, face to face with the most terrific temptations ever presented to a moral being. Having endured all, He died, rose, and bore to God's right hand a humanity in which these things were eternal and inherent. Thence he sent down the Holy Spirit to reproduce His risen humanity in every one who believes.

But Attainable by Faith.

Faith is the power with which we receive through the Holy Ghost the nature of Jesus Christ into our hearts; so that instead of talking about justice, purity, and self-restraint as so many abstract qualities, we speak about Him in whom those attributes are incarnated. By faith we receive Him, and having received Him, we receive them. Let the Holy Spirit reproduce Him.

Just now we said, Let those six sisters stand at the gateway and test all our thoughts. But it is better to say, Let Jesus Christ stand at the gateway and test them, because He can not only test but roll back the tide of evil thought, as easily as He could make Niagara leap back, did He choose. It is mere stoicism and stoical philosophy to say: Watch your thought. It is Christian philosophy to say: Let Christ keep your thoughts, testing them, hurling back the evil, and filling the soul with His glorious presence.

This is the secret of the indwelling presence of the God of Peace. He abides where the heart is kept free from evil thoughts, and filled with the Spirit of the Son. "The God of Peace shall be with you."

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Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament

Philippians Chapter 4

The Philippians were therefore to stand fast in the Lord. This is difficult when the general tone is lowered; painful also, for one’s walk becomes much more solitary, and the hearts of others are straitened. But the Spirit has very plainly given us the example, the principle, the character, and the strength of this walk. With the eye on Christ all is easy; and communion with Him gives light and certainty; and is worth all the rest which perhaps we lose.

The apostle nevertheless spoke gently of those persons. They were not like the false judaising teachers who corrupted the sources of life, and stopped up the path of communion with God in love. They had lost this life of communion, or had never had more than the appearance of it. He wept for them.

I think that the apostle sent his letter by Epaphroditus, who probably also wrote it from the apostle’s dictation; as was done with regard to all the epistles, except that to the Galatians, which, as he tells us, he wrote with his own hand. When therefore he says (chap. 4:3), “true [or faithful] yokefellow,” he speaks as I think, of Epaphroditus, and addresses him.

But he notices also two sisters even, who were not of one mind in resisting the enemy. In every way he desired unity of heart and mind. He entreats Epaphroditus (if indeed it be he) as the Lord’s servant to help those faithful women who had laboured in concert with Paul to spread the gospel. Euodias and Syntyche were perhaps of the number-the connection of thought makes it probable. Their activity, having gone beyond the measure of their spiritual life, betrayed them into an exercise of self-will which set them at variance. Nevertheless they were not forgotten, together with Clement and others, who were fellow-labourers with the apostle himself, whose names were in the book of life. For love for the Lord remembers all that His grace does; and this grace has a place for each of His own.

The apostle returns to the practical exhortations addressed to the faithful, with regard to their ordinary life, that they might walk according to their heavenly calling. “Rejoice in the Lord.” If he even weeps over many who call themselves Christians, he rejoices always in the Lord; in Him is that which nothing can alter. This is not an indifference to sorrow which hinders weeping, but it is a spring of joy which enlarges when there is distress, because of its immutability, and which becomes even more pure in the heart the more it becomes the only one; and it is in itself the only spring that is infinitely pure. When it is our only spring, we thereby love others. If we love them besides Him, we lose something of Him. When through exercise of heart we are weaned from all other springs, His joy remains in all its purity, and our concern for others partakes of this same purity. Nothing moreover troubles this joy, because Christ never changes. The better we know Him, the better are we able to enjoy that which is ever enlarging through knowing Him. But he exhorts Christians to rejoice: it is a testimony to the worth of Christ, it is their true portion. Four years in prison chained to a soldier had not hindered his doing it, nor being able to exhort others more at ease than he.

Now this same thing will make them moderate and meek; their passions will not be excited by other things if Christ is enjoyed. Moreover He is at hand. A little while, and all for which men strive will give place to Him whose presence bridles the will (or rather puts it aside) and fills the heart. We are not to be moved by things here below until He shall come. When He comes, we shall be fully occupied with other things.

Not only are the will and the passions to be bridled and silenced, but anxieties also. We are in relationship with God; in all things He is our refuge; and events do not disturb Him. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows everything, He knows it beforehand; events shake neither His throne, nor His heart; they always accomplish His purposes. But to us He is love; we are through grace the objects of His tender care. He listens to us and bows down His ear to hear us. In all things therefore, instead of disquieting ourselves and weighing everything in our own hearts, we ought to present our requests to God with prayer, with supplication, with a heart that makes itself known (for we are human beings) but with the knowledge of the heart of God (for He loves us perfectly); so that, even while making our petition to Him, we can already give thanks, because we are sure of the answer of His grace, be it what it may; and it is our requests that we are to present to Him. Nor is it a cold commandment to find out His will and then come: we are to go with our requests. Hence it does not say, you will have what you ask; but God’s peace will keep your hearts. This is trust; and His peace, the peace of God Himself, shall keep our hearts. It does not say that our hearts shall keep the peace of God; but, having cast our burden on Him whose peace nothing can disturb, His peace keeps our hearts. Our trouble is before Him, and the constant peace of the God of love, who takes charge of everything and knows all beforehand, quiets our disburdened hearts, and imparts to us the peace which is in Himself and which is above all understanding (or at least keeps our hearts by it), even as He Himself is above all the circumstances that can disquiet us, and above the poor human heart that is troubled by them. Oh, what grace! that even our anxieties are a means of our being filled with this marvellous peace, if we know how to bring them to God, and true He is. May we learn indeed how to maintain this intercourse with God and its reality, in order that we may converse with Him and understand His ways with believers!

Moreover, the Christian, although walking (as we have seen) in the midst of evil and of trial, is to occupy himself with all that is good, and is able to do it when thus at peace, to live in this atmosphere, so that it shall pervade his heart, that he shall be habitually where God is to be found. This is an all-important command. We may be occupied with evil in order to condemn it; we may be right, but this is not communion with God in that which is good. But if occupied through His grace with that which is good, with that which comes from Himself, the God of peace is with us. In trouble we shall have the peace of God; in our ordinary life, if it be of this nature, we shall have the God of peace. Paul was the practical example of this; with regard to their walk, by following him in that which they had learnt and heard from him and seen in him, they should find that God was with them.

Nevertheless, although such was his experience, he rejoiced greatly that their loving care of him had flourished again. He could indeed take refuge in God; but it was sweet to him in the Lord to have this testimony on their part. It is evident that he had been in need; but it was the occasion of more entire trust in God. We can easily gather this from his language; but, he delicately adds, he would not, by saying that their care of him had now at last flourished again, imply that they had forgotten him. The care for him was in their hearts; but they had not had the opportunity of giving expression to their love. Neither did he speak in regard of want; he had learnt-for it is practical experience and its blessed result we find here-to be content under all circumstances, and thus to depend on no one. He knew how to be abased: he knew how to abound; in every way he was instructed both to be full and to be hungry, to be in abundance and to suffer want. He could do all things through Him who strengthened him. Sweet and precious experience! not only because it gives ability to meet all circumstances, which is of great price, but because the Lord is known, the constant, faithful, mighty friend of the heart. It is not ‘I can do all things,’ but “I can do all through him who strengtheneth me.” It is a strength which continually flows from a relationship with Christ, a connection with Him maintained in the heart. Neither is it only ‘One can do all things.’ This is true; but Paul had learnt it practically. He knew what he could be assured of and reckon on-what ground he stood on. Christ had always been faithful to him, had brought him through so many difficulties and through so many seasons of prosperity, that he had learnt to trust in Him, and not in circumstances. And Christ was the same ever. Still the Philippians had done well, and it was not forgotten. From the first God had bestowed this grace upon them, and they had supplied the apostle’s need, even when he was not with them. He remembered it with affection, not that he desired a gift, but fruit to their own account. “But,” he says, “I have all,” his heart turning back to the simple expression of his love He was in abundance, having received by Epaphroditus that which they had sent him, an acceptable sacrifice of sweet odour, well-pleasing to God.

His heart rested in God; his assurance with regard to the Philippians expresses it. My God, he says, shall richly supply all your need. He does not express a wish that God may do so. He had learnt what his God was by his own experience. My God, he says, He whom I have learnt to know in all the circumstances through which I have passed, shall fill you with all good things. And here he returns to His character as he had known Him. God would do it according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. There he had learnt to know Him at the beginning; and such he had known Him all along his varied path, so full of trials here and of joys from above. Accordingly he thus concludes: “Now unto our God and Father”-for such He was to the Philippians also-”be glory for ever and ever.” He applies his own experience of that which God was to him, and his experience of the faithfulness of Christ, to the Philippians. This satisfied his love, and gave him rest with regard to them. It is a comfort when we think of the assembly of God.

He sends the greeting of the brethren who were with him, and of the saints in general, especially those of Caesar’s household; for even there God had found some who through grace had listened to His voice of love.

He ends with the salutation which was a token in all his epistles that they were from himself.

The present state of the assembly, of the children of God, dispersed anew, and often as sheep without a shepherd, is a very different condition of ruin from that in which the apostle wrote; but this only adds more value to the experience of the apostle which God has been pleased to give us; the experience of a heart which trusted in God alone, and which applies this experience to the condition of those who are deprived of the natural resources that belonged to the organised body, to the body of Christ as God had formed it on earth. As a whole, the epistle shews proper Christian experience, that is, superiority, as walking in the Spirit, to everything through which we have to pass. It is remarkable to see that sin is not mentioned in it, nor flesh, save to say he had no confidence in it.

He had at this time a thorn in the flesh himself, but the proper experience of the Christian is walking in the Spirit above and out of the reach of all that may bring the flesh into activity.

The reader will remark that chapter 3 sets the glory before the Christian and gives the energy of Christian life; chapter 2, the self-emptying and abasement of Christ, and founds thereon the graciousness of the Christian life, and thoughtfulness of others: while the last chapter gives a blessed superiority to all circumstances.

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Darby, John. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "John Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament". 1857-67.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”

“Finally”: “Paul lists a number of traits, which, if incorporated into one"s thinking processes, would truly contribute to tranquility of life” (Jackson p. 81). This verse also contains practical information that will help any Christian "stand fast" in the Lord (). The "peace" mentioned in 4:7 demands some human cooperation, and it does not just happen. “The readers must do their part by controlling their minds and thoughts” (Erdman p. 142). Yet, this verse admits that we can realistically control our mental attitude and what we think about. Standing fast in the Lord, involves standing firm in our convictions, beliefs, and thoughts. The Christian does not have the right to think or personally believe anything they want (Matthew 5:28). Everyone allows their mind to dwell on something, “The human mind will always set itself on something” (Barclay p. 79). Hence, since I am going to expend mental energy thinking about something, the wise man says, “I should at least profit from such mental activity”. Many have noted that thoughts produce habits, habits lead to actions, actions determine character, and character determines our eternal destiny. Barclay reminds us, “This is something of the utmost importance, because it is a law of life that, if a man thinks of something often enough, he will come to the stage when he cannot stop thinking about it. His thoughts will be quite literally in a groove out of which he cannot jerk them” (p. 79).

“Whatsoever things are”: Whatever would fit into the following categories. “True”: This infers that many things are also false. “Many things in this world are deceptive and illusory, promising what they can never perform, offering a specious peace and happiness which they can never supply. A man should always set his thoughts on the things which will not let him down” (Barclay p. 79). The Christian cannot afford to live in an illusionary fantasy world. “It is not a true thing that God does not care what we believe and how we act in consequence” (Lenski p. 882). This means that the Christian does not have the right to believe a false concept, even though they might not practice it. God does not want Christians to be gullible. “The term denotes that which is ‘true to fact’. Truth is grounded in the very nature of God (Romans ; 8:32; 17:17)” (Jackson pp. 81-82).

“Honorable”: “Dignified” (Rhm). “Whatever is worthy of reverence” (Mon). “Is a quality that is characterized by soberness, as opposed to a flippant attitude that lacks ‘intellectual seriousness’” (Jackson p. 82). “That which wins respect or commands reverence, or is esteemed. It refers to lofty things, majestic things, things that lift the mind from the cheap and tawdry to that which is noble and good and of moral worth” (Hawthorne p. 188). “There are things in this world which are flippant and cheap and attractive to the light-minded” (Barclay p. 79). Christians need to take the time to reflect about the serious things of life (1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 2:2; Titus 2:7; Titus 3:8). “There lies in it the idea of a dignity or majesty which is yet inviting and attractive, and which inspires reverence” (Vincent p. 458). The things above would fit into this category, Colossians 3:1-2.

“Just”: “What is right” (Gspd). The Christian will be miserable, if he or she allows false concepts to remain in their thinking. The Christian is the person who admits that whatever God says and does is "right".

The Christian does not long for the "easy way out", rather, they only want to do what is "right". Instead of thinking selfishly, the Christian says, “What is just?” (Colossians 4:1). “It concerns giving to God and men their due. It involves duty and responsibility. It entails satisfying all obligations” (Hawthorne p. 188).

“Pure”: Innocent, modest, chaste, and clean. “This world is full of things which are sordid and shabby and soiled and smutty. Many a man gets his mind into such a state that it soils everything of which it thinks” (Barclay p. 80). Compare with Titus 1:15. Hendriksen reminds us, “The Philippians, because of their background and surroundings, were being constantly tempted by that which was unchaste” (p. 198). The word "pure" also applies to "pure" motives and actions. The Christian does not have the right to "plot" revenge (Romans 12:19-21). Some people spend their lives dwelling upon all the bad things they would love to see happen to those who wronged them, and such people are usually miserable (Titus 3:3). “Lovely”: “Endearing” (Con). “Lovable” (TCNT). “It is that which calls forth love” (Jackson p. 82). “Winsome--Thus the Christian"s mind is to be set on things that elicit from others not bitterness and hostility, but admiration and affection” (Hawthorne p. 188). “There are those whose minds are so set on vengeance and punishment that they call forth bitterness and fear in others. There are those whose minds are so set on criticism and rebuke that they call forth resentment in others” (Barclay p. 80).

“Good report”: Well spoken of. Those things that deserve and enjoy a good reputation (1 Corinthians 13:6). “Lit., ‘sounding well’--that which is fit to hear” (Jackson p. 82). The Christian is not interested in "gossip" and the Christian takes no pleasure in hearing the "dirt" that has surfaced concerning another member. The Christian eagerly desires to hear those things that are good, such as the good things that Christians are doing, and the successes they are having. Jackson makes all of us uncomfortable when he says, “It is a truly interesting exercise to listen to the things that most commonly engage the conversations of men--even some who profess to be disciples of the Lord Jesus!” (p. 82). “If there be any”: “If virtue and honor have any meaning” (TCNT). “Whatever moral excellence exists, and whatever praise it deserves” (Erdman p. 143). “Nothing that is really worthwhile for believers to ponder and take into consideration is omitted from this summarizing phrase. Anything at all that is a matter of moral and spiritual excellence, so that it is the proper object of praise, is the right pasture for the Christian mind to graze in” (Hendriksen p. 199). Paul could also be inferring that virtue and praiseworthy behavior cannot be developed without thinking about the right things.

“Think on these things”: "’To take account of. It also suggests that we are to constantly place our minds on these things. Vine notes that it means to ‘make those things the subjects of your thoughtful consideration’” (Jackson p. 81).

We are responsible for our thoughts. Contrary to the thinking of some, man is capable to "holding on" to good thoughts. I can make such things the habitual food for my mind. The Christian can really change, and such change can reach right down to the very essence of one"s attitude. The Christian has too much to ponder to allow his mind to wander. Happiness and contentment () are impossible without practicing Philippians 4:8.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". 1999-2014.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(8) True . . . honest (better, venerable; see margin).—Truth is the inherent likeness to God, who is Truth. Whatever is true in itself is also “venerable”—i.e., as the original word, usually rendered “grave” (as in 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:2) etymologically signifies, it claims a share of the reverence due primarily to God; it has in it a certain majesty commanding worship.

Just . . . pure.—“Just” is (as St. Paul’s habitual usage of “justify” shows) righteous in act and word, as tested by the declared will of man or God. “Pure” is righteous in essence, in the thought, which cannot be thus tested—showing itself in what is just and indeed perfected thereby, but in itself something holier still.

Lovely . . . of good report.—Both words are peculiar to this passage: in both we pass from truth and righteousness to love. “Lovely” is that which deserves love. The phrase “of good report” represents a Greek word which is commonly used for “fair-sounding,” or “auspicious” and “acceptable.” It is therefore the outward expression of what is “lovely,” winning the acceptance which loveliness deserves.

If there be any virtue, and . . . praise.—Still there is the same antithesis—“virtue” is the inherent quality; “praise” is virtue’s due. But the word “virtue,” so frequent in human morality, is hardly ever used in Scripture. In fact, the only other case of application to man is in 2 Peter 1:5, where it stands between “faith” and “knowledge,” and seems specially to signify the energy of practice by which faith grows into knowledge. The reason of this is clear. To the very name of “virtue” clings the idea of self-reliance—such self-reliance as the Stoic philosophy (then the only dominant system of Roman opinion which had any nobleness in it) made its essential characteristic; and that idea is, of course, foreign to the whole conception of Christian morality. The occurrence, therefore, here of an appeal to “virtue” and to “praise” seems strange. We notice, however, that it is introduced by a new phrase of mere hypothesis (“if there be,” &c.), which may be taken to mark it as an outlying consideration, occupying a less firm and important ground. Probably, therefore, it is an appeal to the lower conceptions of the society, so characteristically Roman, around them: “Nay, even if there be any truth in the virtue and praise of mere human morality,” &c.

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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(8, 9) Here, repeating the word “Finally,” the Apostle again draws to a conclusion, in a comprehensive exhortation to stand fast in all that is good on the foundation which he had laid in the name of Christ. The exhortation is marked by the reiteration of affectionate earnestness, in which, however, we may (as always) trace an underlying method. In each pair of epithets there seems to be reference both to an inner reality and to the outward development, by which it is at once manifested and perfected. In both St. Paul would have them grow up to perfection.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Euodia and Syntyche

Philippians 4:2

This is a dual biography in a nutshell. These persons are nowhere else referred to. The outline is faint enough; yet on thoughtful consideration it reveals not a few interesting facts.

I. The persons here mentioned were women. They were members of the Philippian Church, which is often spoken of as a "woman"s church". It is frequently said by way of criticism that two-thirds of the members of the entire Christian Church are of the gentler sex. But shall the fact be regarded as a reflection on the character of the church? Before we leap to that conclusion, let us yoke with it another fact; to wit, seven-eighths of the inmates of our prisons and penitentiaries are men. A fair deduction from both these premises can place no discredit upon the Church for her preponderance of female membership. Indeed, it speaks eloquently for her thoughtfulness and purity of character.

II. We are given to understand that Euodia and Syntyche were good women. There is much in a name. Euodia means "fragrance"; Syntyche means "happiness". We are informed that they were "labourers in the Gospel". We have a further intimation as to the character of Euodia and Syntyche in the statement that their names were written "in the Book of Life".

III. These good women were not of one mind.

IV. The quarrel was about a trifle. We infer this from the fact that Paul asked for no investigation of their case. Indeed, the whole affair would appear to have been much ado about nothing. It may have originated in a bit of gossip, a flash of temper, or an inadvertent word. Is it not true that most disagreements have a slight origin? We should find it difficult to account for most of our likes and dislikes; and as for our bitter disagreements, it would be quite impossible to justify them.

V. It would appear that both women were to blame. This may be inferred from their having an equal interest in the message: "I beseech Euodia, and beseech Syntyche". It takes two to make a quarrel.

VI. The results of this quarrel were far-reaching. It has come down through nineteen hundred years.

VII. We do not know that Euodia and Syntyche were ever reconciled on earth. The women who were parties to this Philippian quarrel are generic types. And the practical application is plain. If there are bitternesses to be healed or differences to compose, let us not wait until the shadows enfold us.

—D. J. Burrell, The Gospel of Certainty, p73.

Philippians 4:2

"It has been justly observed," says Dr. Johnson in The Rambler (99), "that discord generally operates in little things; it is inflamed to its utmost vehemence by contrariety of tests, oftener than of principles."

References.—IV:2.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. x. p46. IV:2, 3.—J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p162.

Philippians 4:3

In his Specimen Days in America, describing the cases of the soldiers he visited in hospital during the Civil War, Walt Whitman writes: "No formal general"s report, nor book in library, nor column in the paper, embalms the bravest, north or south, east or west Unnamed, unknown, remain and still remain, the bravest soldiers."

References.—IV:3.—S. K. Hocking, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. p102. J. G. Greenhough, ibid. vol. liii. p264. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Philippians, p11.

Philippians 4:4

Dr. Marcus Dods wrote at the age of twenty-six to his sister Marcia: "If you are going to send texts I"ll send you one that will last you all the year and more—χαίρετε, Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice: then notice the connections on to the end of the paragraph".—Early Letters, p165 (see also p257).

Equanimity (Christmas)

Philippians 4:4

In other parts of Scripture the prospect of Christ"s coming is made a reason for solemn fear and awe, and a call for watching and prayer, but in the verses connected with the text a distinct view of the Christian character is set before us, and distinct duties urged on us. "The Lord is at hand," and what then?—why, if Song of Solomon, we must "rejoice in the Lord"; we must be conspicuous for "moderation"; we must be "careful for nothing"; we must seek from God"s bounty, and not from Prayer of Manasseh, whatever we need; we must abound in "thanksgiving"; and we must cherish, or rather we must pray for, and we shall receive from above, "the peace of God which passeth all understanding," to "keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus". Now this is a view of the Christian character definite and complete enough to admit of commenting on, and it may be useful to show that the thought of Christ"s coming not only leads to fear, but to a calm and cheerful frame of mind.

I. Nothing perhaps is more remarkable than that an Apostle—a man of toil and blood, a man combating with powers unseen, and a spectacle for men and Angels, and much more that St. Paul, a man whose natural temper was so zealous, so severe, and so vehement—I say, nothing is more striking and significant than that St. Paul should have given us this view of what a Christian should be. It would be nothing wonderful, it is nothing wonderful, that writers in a day like this should speak of peace, quiet, sobriety, and cheerfulness, as being the tone of mind that becomes a Christian; but considering that St. Paul was by birth a Jew, and by education a Pharisee; that he wrote at a time when, if at any time, Christians were in lively and incessant agitation of mind; when persecution and rumours of persecution abounded; when all things seemed in commotion around them; when there was nothing fixed; when there were no churches to soothe them, no course of worship to sober them, no homes to refresh them; and, again, considering that the Gospel is full of high and noble, and what may be called even romantic, principles and motives, and deep mysteries; and, further, considering the very topic which the Apostle combines with his admonitions is that awful subject, the coming of Christ; it is well worthy of notice that, in such a time, under such a covenant, and with such a prospect, he should draw a picture of the Christian character as free from excitement and effort, as full of repose, as still and as equable, as if the great Apostle wrote in some monastery of the desert or some country parsonage. Here surely is the finger of God; here is the evidence of supernatural influences, making the mind of man independent of circumstances! This is the thought that first suggests itself; and the second is this, how deep and refined is the true Christian spirit!—how difficult to enter into, how vast to embrace, how impossible to exhaust! Who would expect such composure and equanimity from the fervent Apostle of the Gentiles? We know St. Paul could do great things; could suffer and achieve, could preach and confess, could be high and could be low; but we might have thought that all this was the limit and the perfection of the Christian temper, as he viewed it; and that no room was left him for the feelings which the text and following verses lead us to ascribe to him.

And yet he who "laboured more abundantly than all" his brethren, is also a pattern of simplicity, meekness, cheerfulness, thankfulness, and serenity of mind.

II. It is observable, too, that it was foretold as the peculiarity of Gospel times by the Prophet Isaiah:

"The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever. And My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places."

"But this I say, brethren, the time is short." What matters it what we eat, what we drink, how we are clothed, where we lodge, what is thought of us, what becomes of us, since we are not at home? It is felt every day, even as regards this world, that when we leave home for a while we are unsettled. This, then, is the kind of feeling which a belief in Christ"s coming will create within us. It is not worth while establishing ourselves here; it is not worth while spending time and thought on such an object. We shall hardly have got settled when we shall have to move.

"Be careful for nothing," St. Paul says, or, as St. Peter, "casting all your care upon Him," or, as He Himself, "Take no thought" or care "for the morrow, for the morrow will take thought for the things of itself". This of course is the state of mind which is directly consequent on the belief, that "the Lord is at hand". Who would care for any loss or gain today, if he knew for certain that Christ would show Himself tomorrow? no one. Well, then, the true Christian feels as he would feel, did he know for certain that Christ would be here tomorrow.

III. The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not,—like some well in a retired and shady place, difficult of access. He is the greater part of his time by himself, and when he is in solitude, that is his real state. What he is when left to himself and to his God, that is his true life. He can bear himself; he can (as it were) joy in himself, for it is the grace of God within him, it is the presence of the Eternal Comforter, in which he joys. He can bear, he finds it pleasant, to be with himself at all times,—"never less alone than when alone". He can lay his head on his pillow at night, and own in God"s sight, with overflowing heart, that he wants nothing, that he "is full and abounds," that God has been all things to him, and that nothing is not his which God could give him. More thankfulness, more holiness, more of heaven he needs indeed, but the thought that he can have more is not a thought of trouble, but of joy. It does not interfere with his peace to know that he may grow nearer God. Such is the Christian"s peace, when, with a single heart and the Cross in his eye, he addresses and commends himself to Him with whom the night is as clear as the day. St Paul says that "the peace of God shall keep our hearts and minds. By "keep" is meant "guard," or "garrison," our hearts; so as to keep out enemies. And he says, our "hearts and minds" in contrast to what the world sees of us. Many hard things may be said of the Christian, and done against him, but he has a secret preservative or charm, and minds them not.

—J. H. Newman.

References.—IV:4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xli. No2405. B. J. Snell, The Virtue of Gladness, p73. W. H. Evans, Sermons far the Church"s Year, p15. J. T. Bramston, Fratribus, p66. J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p168. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Philippians, p21. IV:4-7.—F. J. A. Hort, Village Sermons in Outline, p221.

The Golden Mean

Philippians 4:5

"Your moderation," forbearance, conciliatoriness, yieldingness.

I. Note this admonition as it applies to matters of faith. The Apostle designed to put the Philippians on their guard against treating coldly or harshly those of another creed; the text is a warning against bigotry and dogmatism. The danger was lest they should exhibit an intolerant spirit in dealing with their unconverted neighbours. This admonition is by no means out of date; the modern Christian needs to give it most prayerful consideration, for he also is in danger of haughtiness and exclusiveness. (1) There is a pride of orthodoxy. (2) There is the pride of denominationalism.

II. The admonition of the text applies to matters of character. We are tempted to judge our brethren harshly; some of them are not like us in certain particulars, and we conclude that they are inferior in wisdom or devotion. (1) We must beware how we deal offensively with any whom we may imagine to be inferior to ourselves. (2) And let us be careful lest we grieve those who are different from ourselves.

III. This admonition applies to matters of conduct We are to display our reasonableness in daily life, and not severely to judge our fellows. It is not always easy to say what is exactly right and fitting to be done; we must, therefore, watch against illiberality and painful dogmatism. "Reasonableness of dealing, not strictness of legal right, but consideration for one another," is the lesson of the text and the high duty of the Christian life. The earth itself is not a rigid body; it yields to stress, it displays a certain plasticity for which the astronomer allows; and such is the character of living goodness. Just as the mighty ocean softly adjusts itself to all the articulations of the shore without any sacrifice of majesty; as the rock-ribbed earth is tremblingly sensitive, yielding to stress whilst delicately true to its orbit; so the strong, sincere, pure soul has a quick sense of the essential and non-essential—is ready within well-understood lines to give and take, and so preserves that aspect of ease and beauty which belongs to whatever is strong and free.

—W. L. Watkinson, Themes for Hours of Meditation, p113.

References.—IV:5.—W. M. Sinclair, Christ and Our Times, p231. R. W. Hiley. A Year"s Sermons, vol. ii. p346. F. St. John Corbett, The Preacher"s Year, p7. W. H. Evans, Short Sermons for the Seasons, p20. J. Keble, Sermons or Advent to Christmas Eve, p391. J. Jefferis, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. p403. J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p174. IV:6.—Ibid. p180. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv. No1469. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Philippians, p31.

Man"s Care Conquered By God"s Peace

Philippians 4:6-7

Let us see whether this exhortation against anxiety is as impracticable and visionary as some assume it to be; whether, on the contrary, it is not one of the wisest and kindest precepts God ever gave to His children; whether fuller obedience to it would not relieve us of our burdens and wipe away our tears, giving smiles in the place of sadness and peace in the midst of storms.

I. In distinguishing between various kinds of care, there are some which are evidently right, others as evidently wrong, and some which require thought before we can determine whether they are lawful or unlawful. (1) It is clear that some cares are perfectly justifiable. The injunction to pray about them implies this, and our obedience to Divine precepts necessitates them. (2) There are some cares which are as certainly wrong, because they flow from an evil source which taints them. Envy, suspicion, ambition, consciousness of guilt, pride, ill-temper may originate them and often do. (3) But, besides these, there are cares about which it is by no means easy to say whether they are lawful or unlawful. Can we find any touchstone to which we can bring a doubtful care, to test whether it be right or wrong? I think we can, and that it lies before us in my text, where we are pointed to prayer. Any care you can confidently pray about is lawful. (4) But some cares, lawful enough in themselves, become unlawful through their excess.

II. To let in the light of heaven on anxieties and cares—in other words, to pray over them—is to expel the evils in them. (1) Those evils are manifold. Even the body suffers from over-anxiety, as sleepless nights, a careworn face, and shattered nerves often testify. Our mental faculties are affected too. (2) How is this to be averted? We want a power put within us which will drive out the strong man armed, being stronger than he. And this is brought in by prayer.

III. The effect of obedience to this precept is set forth in the words: "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. This peace is not a passive possession but an active power which "keeps the heart"; or, as Paul says to the Colossians, "rules the heart".

—A. Rowland, Open Windows and other Sermons, p130.

References.—IV:6, 7.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xl. No2351. J. A. Beet, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. p273. E. Armitage, ibid. vol. xlviii. p149.

Philippians 4:7

In the letters of J. M. Neale, an account is given of the death of the Rev. Charles Simeon. It is from the pen of Mr. Cams. "I went in to him after chapel this morning, and he was then lying with his eyes closed. I thought he was asleep, but after standing there a little while he put out his hand to me. I said, "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your heart and mind". He said nothing. I said again, "They washed their robes, dear Sirach, and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb; therefore they are before the throne of God". "I have, I have!" he said. "I have washed my robes in the Blood of the Lamb; they are clean, quite clean—I know it." He shut his eyes for a few minutes, and when he again opened them I said, "Well, dear Sirach, you will soon comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye may—He tried to raise himself, and said, after his quick manner, "Stop! stop! you don"t understand a bit about that text; don"t go on with it—I won"t hear it—I shall understand it soon!" After a little while he said, "Forty years ago I blessed God because I met one man in the street who spoke to me, and, oh, what a change there is now"!

References.—IV:7.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv. No180 and vol. xxiv. No1397. Bishop Creighton. University and other Sermons, p1. T. Arnold, Christian Life: Its Hopes, p238. Archbishop Benson, Living Theology, p211. E. J. Boyce, Parochial Sermons, p188. Phillips Brooks, The Law of Growth, p219. T. Binney, King"s Weigh-House Chapel Sermons (2Series), p79, 94, 106, 121. J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p186. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Philippians, p39.

Protected Thoughts

Philippians 4:7-8

In the Christian life the thought-realm is the seat of the greatest difficulty with which a man is confronted. Our thoughts are so elusive, so difficult to control, and so entirely independent of any known law, that to order them arightly seems an impossibility. It is characteristic of the Gospel that such a difficulty is not ignored, but is honestly faced and frankly dealt with. It proposes a solution of the problem of the thought-life the worth of which can only be known by personal test, and the man who would know the fulness of the Evangel must seek the fulfilment of its promises here. Indeed, in its ultimate analysis the adequacy of the Gospel as a scheme of salvation depends upon its power in this hidden realm of our being, for our thoughts are by far the largest parts of our lives. We think far more than we speak or Acts, and it is a matter of common experience that our thoughts are the springs of both speech and action.

I. The power of thought is the strongest force in the life of any one of us, as witness its annihilation of distance and time, and its disregard of circumstances. Our holiest moments are often invaded by our un-holiest imaginations, and uncontrolled thought at such times makes vivid to us things long since past. On this account it is that thought manifests its greatest strength as an avenue of temptation. Our temptations come to us mainly by our thoughts, which gather strength in this respect from their own past victories.

II. The fact, that our thoughts have a direct and powerful influence upon others is an added emphasis upon the necessity of our endeavouring to apprehend the fulness of Christ"s salvation in this respect. It is quite impossible to disregard what is now known as the power of thought-communication and transference, a misapprehension of which has led not a few into a regular cult of thought-power, from which a right understanding of the Gospel in its fulness would have saved them. Now we may understand something of its reality and influence by looking at it inversely. We all know the power of thoughtlessness and the strength which it has to wound and to hurt. We all know that nothing cuts us so deeply as thoughtless treatment on the part of those from whom we expected something better. And by introversion we may understand something also of the influence of holy, pure, and loving thought.

III. Along with the creation of personal self-discovery, the Gospel proclaims an inward emancipation, promising to the surrendered heart a guardianship of thought which liberates from moral bondage, and a communication of power which brings "every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ". And these words are not expressive of an unattainable ideal, spoken to mock us with the sense of shortcoming which they create, but are rather a call to us to enter into the joy of our Lord.

The Gospel does not call us to a life of mere passivity, which would be, to say the least, of but questionable morality. We are to co-operate with Him, and it is always within our own power to keep ourselves in the love of God. Hence it is that the Gospel imposes a rigid self-discipline with regard to thoughts, and lays upon us the responsibility for thought-selection. Assuming that we have learned our own helplessness, that we have yielded ourselves to the Lord, and are now relying upon His promise to undertake the responsibility of guarding our hearts and our thoughts, it enjoins "Whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, of good report think on these things". Christ does not supersede our own activities but rather strengthens them, and to us is committed the task of crowding out the evil by the good, always in reliance upon His imparted strength.

—J. Stuart Holden, The Pre-Eminent Lord, p181.

Right Thoughts

Philippians 4:8

St. Paul here tells the beloved Philippians what things to think of, what to value, what to practise in their lives; if they do this, he says that the "God of Peace" will certainly be with them. Let us look at the things which he suggests for their meditation and practice a little more closely.

I. Whatsoever Things are True.—The word has a fuller and deeper meaning in the Bible than it now has. Truth with us means the opposite of falsity in speech, but in Scripture it means the opposite of all unreality, all sham. St. Paul bids them think habitually of all that is real; on the substance, not on the shadow; on the eternal, not on the transitory; on God, not on the world. "Whatsoever things are real"—God, the Soul, Eternity, the Gospel of Jesus Christ—"think on these things."

II. Whatsoever Things are Honest.—The word in the original means "noble," "grave," "reverend," "seemly". It is an exhortation to dignity of thought as opposite to meanness of thought. It invites to the gravity of self-respect. Nothing becomes too bad for men who have lost their self-respect. Why is this sea of life strewn with hopeless wrecks? Could the unmanly Prayer of Manasseh, the unwomanly woman, have sunk to such depths of loathsome degradation if they had ever thought of whatsoever things are honest? There are no words of counsel more deep-reaching than these, especially to young men and women.

III. Whatsoever Things are Just.—Justice is one of the most elementary of human duties, and one of the rarest. Try to be, what so few are, habitually fair.

IV. Whatsoever Things are Pure.—Ah! that this warning might reach the heart of every one of you, and inspire you with the resolve to banish from your minds everything that defileth. Impure thoughts encouraged lead inevitably to fatal deeds and blasted lives.

V. Whatsoever Things are Lovely.—Winning and attractive thoughts that live and are radiant in the light. If you think of such things, the baser and viler will have no charm for you. Try then, above all, "the expulsive power of good affections". Empty by filling—empty of what is mean and impure by filling with what is noble and lovely.

VI. Whatsoever Things are of Good Report.—The world delights in whatsoever things are of ill report—base stories, vile innuendoes, evil surmisings, scandalous hints; it revels in envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness. If you would be noble, if you would be a Christian Prayer of Manasseh, have nothing to do with such things.

VII. Then, if there be any Virtue, and if there be any Praise, think on these Things.—The words do not imply the least doubt that there is virtue, and that there is praise, but they mean, whatever virtue and praise there be, think on these. There is no nobler character than the man who knows the awful reverence which is due from himself to his own soul; who loveth the thing that is just and doeth that which is lawful and right, in singleness of heart; who keeps the temple of his soul pure and bright with the presence of the Holy One; who hates all that is ignoble and loves his neighbour as himself. What has such a man to fear? The eternal forces are with him. His heart, his hope, his treasure, are beyond the grave; and ever and anon he is permitted to see the heavens open, and "the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man".

—Dean Farrar.

What to Think About

Philippians 4:8

"Think on these things." "These things" constitute the prescribed liberty of Christian manhood. They are a kind of inventory of the mental furnishings of the Christian life. And I think everybody will readily grant that the furnishings are not cheap and stingy, not bare and monotonous, but liberal and varied, graceful and refined.

Now let me review these glorious possibilities, this authorised dominion in Christian freedom of thought.

I. Whatsoever Things are True.—True, not simply veracious. The word "true" is not used by the Apostle as we use it in a court of law, when we enjoin a witness to "speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth". The things described in a police court as true are usually ugly and repulsive; truth is always beautiful. Truth in a police court is correspondence with fact. Truth as used in the New Testament is correspondence with God. An unclean story may be accurate; an unclean story can never be true. A story is true when in very substance it shares the likeness of Him who is the truth. Veracity accurately describes a happening, truth describes a particular happening. We are therefore enjoined not to think about merely accurate things, but about accurate things which unveil the face of God.

II. Whatsoever Things are Honourable.—Things that are worthy of honour, worthy of reverence, the august and the venerable. The Authorised Version uses the old English word "honest," which is suggestive of gravity, seemliness, dignity. There is a certain fine stateliness in the word, recalling the impressive grandeur of a cathedral pile. Whatsoever things make the character of men and women to resemble the imposing proportions of a cathedral, "think on these things".

III. Whatsoever Things are Just.—And yet our word "just" does not convey the Apostle"s mind and meaning. Justice can be very cold and steely, like the justice of a Shylock. It may mean only superficial exactitude as between man and man. But to be really just is to be right with God. No man is really just until he is adjusted to his Maker. Whatsoever things satisfy the standards of the Almighty, "think on these things".

IV. Whatsoever Things are Pure.—But to be pure is to be more than just. It is to be stainless, blameless, and unblemished.

V. Whatsoever Things are Lovely.—We are to bring the amiable and the lovable within the circle of our regard. John Calvin gives the meaning as "morally agreeable and pleasant. I am glad that juicy word came from the lips of that austere prophet. Dr. Matheson tells of a young woman who came to him in great distress over her failure to fulfil the religious duties of life. He was aware that at this very time she was living a life of sacrificial devotion to a blind father. "I asked if this service of hers was not a religious duty. She answered, "Oh no, it cannot be, because that brings me such joy, and it is the delight of my heart to serve my father"." It is a most common and perilous mistake. There are tens of thousands of duties and liberties which are juicy and delicious, and they are the portion of those who sit down at the Lord"s feast.

VI. Whatsoever Things are of Good Report.—Not merely things that are well reported of, but things which themselves have a fine voice, things that are fair speaking, and therefore gracious, winsome, winning, and attractive. And then, as though he were afraid that the vast enclosure was not yet wide enough, and that some fair and beautiful thing might still be outside its comprehensive pale, the Apostle adds still more inclusive terms, and says, "If there be any virtue" whatever is merely excellent; "and if there be any praise," whatever is in any degree commendable—take account of them, bring them within the circle of your commendation and delight, "think on these things". Fasten your eyes upon the lovely wheresoever the lovely may be found.

—J. H. Jowett, The High Galling, p192.

Time to Think

Philippians 4:8

This age has been called an age of growth, and so in many ways it is—growth of empire, of commerce, of wealth, of population, and an improvement in physique.

But what of spiritual growth? There is a growth in organisations, in spiritual activities, in spiritual fuss, but this is only the scaffolding; the building itself grows but little. What is the remedy? We find it in the first word of our text, "Think".

I. Get Time to Think.—It is more necessary than many realise; it is indeed absolutely necessary, for without time to think our spiritual life cannot grow. We hear too much of the voice of man. Get time to hear the voice of God.

II. Acquire the Habit of Thinking.—The mind quickly forms habits just as the body does, and if those habits are habits of idleness or day-dreams or vanity, the mind will soon become useless for thinking. Discipline your mind! Keep still and think. Think deeply, and so become deep. Think regularly, and so acquire the habit of thinking.

III. What shall we Think?—It is a good thing to drive out wrong and impure thoughts from our hearts—we must do so; but unless we obtain good thoughts to fill their place the evil thoughts will return with sevenfold force. What, then, shall we think? "Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there be any virtue, any praise, think on these things." That is the great remedy for our lack of spiritual growth. The scaffolding is here; let us build up the spiritual building.

The Regulation of Thoughts

Philippians 4:8

What a vast and varied domain there is spread out before man in which his thought may expatiate! Have we not in this itself an intimation of our immortality? It has been said that "art is long, and life is short". The truth is that life is long too, as long as art—long even to infinity. He who has given the eternal faculties and the eternal longing will also give the eternal life. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." A man can never be better than his thoughts. Everything good and everything evil originates in thought. And herein we are greatly helped or hindered, as the case may be, by the power of habit. What you want is carefully—painfully, if necessary—to cultivate the habit of choosing those things which are good and pure and honourable and lovely and of good report. It may be a slow process, but it is a sure one, if only, by the grace of God, you persevere. For you must remember that interest in a particular subject Isaiah, to a very large extent, a matter of habit. Bearing in mind that what is necessary is not simply a good resolution such as one might make at the close of a sermon, or in one of his better moods, but a steady and persevering course of training and culture, let us see more precisely what it is we have to do.

I. The first thing clearly is to select that which is good (as opposed to that which is evil) to think about. Here comes in the weighty truth that "to the pure all things are pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled". It is not so much the things at which we look as the way in which we look at them, which makes the great difference.

II. Not only, however, is it our duty to select that which is good as opposed to that which is bad, but to choose that which is best in preference to that which is inferior, to think about. God made us to soar. He has given us atmosphere enough to soar in, and heaven enough to soar to; and it is a shame that so many of us should be content to think such paltry thoughts as we do. There is one theme which is loftier and more inspiring than all others, which we neglect at the peril of all that is highest and best, and most hopeful in us—the great theme of the Gospel—"Jesus Christ and Him crucified".

III. While the greatest theme of all which can engage our attention is the truth as it is in Jesus, there is no disposition to narrow the range of our thinking. There is only one thing narrow in Christianity, and that is the gate—the entrance.

—J. M. Gibson, A Strong City, p165.

The Discipline of Thought

Philippians 4:8

When we speak of unseen things, we commonly refer to things that are eternal. We associate the unseen with the world beyond the veil, where the angels of God, innumerable, are around the throne. But the world of thought, of feeling, of passion, and of desire—that world still baffles the finest powers of vision: as surely as there is an unseen heaven above us, there is an unseen universe within. I wish, then, to turn to the world within. I believe that most of us give far too little heed to what I might call the discipline of thought First, I shall speak on the vital need there is of governing our thoughts. Next, on how the Gospel helps man to this government.

I. First, then, on the government of our thoughts—and at the outset I would recognise the difficulty of it. I question if there is a harder task in all the world than that of bringing our thoughts into subjection to our will. And yet there are one or two considerations I can bring before you, that will show you how, in the whole circle of self-mastery, there is nothing more vital than the mastery of thought (1) Think, for example, how much of our happiness—our common happiness—depends on thought. Our common happiness does not hang on what we view. Our common happinesss hangs on our point of view. Largely, it is not things themselves; it is our thoughts about them, that constitute the gentle art of being happy. (2) Again, how much of our unconscious influence lies in our thoughts. That very suggestive and spiritual writer, Maeterlinck, puts the matter in his own poetic way. He says: "Though you assume the face of a saint, a hero, or a martyr, the eye of the passing child will not greet you with the same unapproachable smile if there lurk within you an evil thought". (3) There is only one other consideration I would mention, and that is the power of thought in our temptations. In the government of thought—in the power to bring thought to heel—lies one of our greatest moral safeguards against sin.

II. How does the Gospel help us to govern our thoughts? To some of you the mastery of thought may seem impossible—it is never viewed as impossible in Scripture, and the secret of that Gospel-power lies in the three great words—light, love, life. (1) Think first of light as a power for thought-mastery. In twilight or darkness what sad thoughts come thronging which the glory of sunlight instantly dispels. The glory of Christ is that by His life and death He has shed a light where before there was only darkness. The light of Christ, for the man who lives in it, is an untold help in the government of thought (2) Then think of love—is it not one mark of love that our thoughts always follow in its train? (3) Then think of life—are not our thoughts affected by the largeness and abundance of our life? Christ"s great tide of life, like the tide of the sea that covers up the mudbanks, is the greatest power in the moral world for submerging every base and bitter thought.

—G. H. Morrison, The Unlighted Lustre, p1.

Things That Are Lovely

Philippians 4:8

And "these things" constitute the prescribed liberty of Christian manhood. They are a sort of inventory of the mental furnishings of the Christian life. If we are to find our mental furnishings among things that are lovely, where shall we make our explorations? We can find them in humanity, in nature, and in God as revealed to us of Jesus Christ our Lord.

I. Turn, then, to humanity, and whatsoever things are lovely think on these things. And do not be surprised if I counsel you to begin with yourselves. Steadily seek and contemplate the true and the gracious, and the better side of your own self. Do you imagine that this will foster self-conceit? It will only nourish a healthy self-respect In the most barren wastes of life solitary blooms are blowing. They may be weak and fragile and sickly, but "think on these things". And we must busy ourselves in diligently seeking hidden beauties in the lives of others. It is a very chivalrous and manly guest, and it receives a rich reward.

II. And turn to nature, and "whatsoever things are lovely think on these things". We need to "get back to the land" in more senses than the political one of which we are so helpfully hearing today. We want to get back to its poetic significance, its mystic interpretations, its subtle influences upon the spirit by its ministry of light, and shade, and colour, and fragrance, its delicate graces, and its awful austerity. We need a refreshed communion with God"s beautiful world. It is a most neglected side of modern education.

III. And lastly—and surely firstly, too—turn to the Lord Jesus, and contemplate "the chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely". Is it not relevant counsel to our age to advise men to sometimes lay down their apparatus of criticism, and just bask in the contemplation of the moral glory of our Lord? I am not disparaging criticism, but I am advising that criticism be not allowed to suffocate devotion. I once saw an eminent professor of physics who was so intent upon watching the disturbance effected in a cup of coffee by allowing the bowl of his spoon to rest upon it that he took no breakfast at all! It is possible to be so occupied with critical problems concerning the Bread of Life that we altogether forget to eat. And so I say it is well at times, and very frequently too, to lay all critical questions on one side, and just absorbently contemplate the spiritual glory of our Redeemer.

—J. H. Jowett, The British Congregationalist, p252.

References.—IV:8.—F. W. Farrar, Everyday Christian Life, p46. H. Howard, The Raiment of the Soul, p44. T. Sadler, Sunday Thoughts, p139. W. J. Hocking, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p59. F. W. Farrar, ibid. vol. xlviii. pp49, 52. A. P. Stanley, Canterbury Sermons, p291. A. L. Lilley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. p202. Church Family Newspaper, vol. xv. p564. R. J. Drummond, Faith"s Certainties, p215. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ix. p437; ibid. (6th Series), vol. xi. p147. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Philippians, p48.

Philippians 4:9

There may be something more finely sensitive in the modern humour that tends more and more to withdraw a man"s personality from the lessons he inculcates, or the cause that he has espoused; but there is a loss herewith of wholesome responsibility; and when we find in the works of Knox, as in the Epistles of Paul, the man himself standing nakedly forward, courting and anticipating criticism, putting his character, as it were, in pledge for the sincerity of his doctrine, we had best waive the question of delicacy, and make our acknowledgment for a lesson of courage, not unnecessary in these days of anonymous criticism, and much light, otherwise unattainable, in the spirit in which great movements were initiated and carried forward.

—R. L. Stevenson, in Men and Books.

References.—IV:9.—J. H. Jowett, The High Galling, p198. IV:10.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. viii. p409; ibid. vol. x. p196. IV:10-14.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Philippians, p58. IV:10-23.—W. C. Smith, Scottish Review, vol. vi. p248. IV:11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi. No320. T. F. Crosse, Sermons (2Series), p122. H. P. Liddon, Sermons on Some Words of St. Paul, p262. J. Keble, Sermons for the Sundays After Trinity, p86. J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p204. Expositor (6th Series), vol. xi. p285.

Concurrent Adaptation

Philippians 4:11-12

True life with serene acquiescence accommodates itself to things as they are, and, whilst still pursuing its highest ideals, finds in its surroundings the conditions of its unfolding and satisfaction. All inward irritation and revolt on the score of circumstance mean so much defect of life.

I. Note the wide range of the Apostle"s experience. We are naturally curious as to the history of a teacher who declares that he has found the secret of perennial content. If the circumstances of such a man were narrow and monotonous, if his life were cloistered and uneventful, we should not be greatly impressed by his avowal; he who is to witness with effect on this subject must have a history. This the Apostle had. He had ranged all climes from the south to the north pole of human circumstance and sentiment. He assures us, however, that no change found him unprepared. From none did he shrink, and by none did he suffer loss. Those who have not mastered the secret of adjusting themselves to the incidence of the perpetual unsettlements of life are liable to suffer terribly in spirit and faith, temper and character.

II. Mark the process by which the Apostle arrived at this perfect contentment. Whatever may be the aspect of his lot to the carnal eye, he accepts it with gratitude and expectation: "I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me". How, then, is the Christian thoroughly reconciled to a life which occasions the natural man such deep discomfort, and which involves him in dire peril? (1) Christ restores the inner harmony of our nature upon which the interpretation of the outer world depends. In the sovereign power of redeeming and sanctifying grace the conscience is sprinkled from guilt, the passions are purified, the heart glows with love, the will is sceptred, and with peace, patience, and power dwelling within there is no longer any reason or temptation to quarrel with things outside. (2) By rendering us self-sufficing, Christ renders us largely independent of the outer world. To the natural man the world of circumstance is the whole of life. But he who lives in the Spirit, and walks in the Spirit, has an altogether different conception of the place and power of circumstance. He knows of another world than that which meets the carnal eye—of a kingdom within him having marvellous interests, treasures, dignities, sciences, and delights of its own. Within his own heart he carries the summer, the fountain, the nightingale, and the rose, therefore the palace does not mock nor the prison paralyse. (3) By strengthening us in the inner man Christ makes us masters of circumstance.

—W. L. Watkinson, Themes for Hours of Meditation, p72.

Reference.—IV:11, 12.—E. Armitage, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lii. p202.

Philippians 4:11-13

Oliver Cromwell, a few days after the death of his daughter, Lady Elizabeth Claypole, "called for his Bible, and desired an honourable and godly person there (with others) present to read to him "Not that I speak in respect of want, for I have learned, in whatsoever state I Amos, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things, through Christ which strengtheneth me," which read, saith he: to use his own word, "This Scripture did once save my life, when my eldest son died, which went as a dagger to my heart, indeed it did". And then, repeating the words of the text himself, declared his then thoughts to this purpose, reading the tenth and eleventh verses of Paul"s contentation, and submission to the will of God in all conditions (said he): ""Tis true, Paul, you have learned this, and attained to this measure of grace: but what shall I do? Ah, poor creature, it is a hard lesson for me to take out! I find it so!" But reading on to the thirteenth verse, where Paul saith, "I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me"—then faith began to work, and his heart to find support and comfort, and he said thus to himself: "He that was Paul"s Christ is my Christ too," and so drew water out of the wells of salvation, Christ in the covenant of grace."

Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.

—Carlyle, Heroes (v.).

Acclimatisation of Character

Philippians 4:12-13

I. The vicissitudes of our life, especially when they are sudden and unexpected, are always attended by serious peril. Artificial acclimatisation in Nature is possible only when effected with great care, and even then it is often followed by disappointment. Said a tourist to a famous Swiss guide: "You have been in all weathers, and all changes of weather". "The changes are worse than the weather," replied the guide. The alternations of circumstance and experience in human life are repeatedly more dangerous to faith and principle than the most trying settled conditions to which time and habit have reconciled us.

II. And this ordeal of change was never more incessant and sharp than it is today. In the simple times of the past things were more stereotyped and existence more sluggish than we now know them to be. Every hour we see and feel the ebb and flow of things, and without swift handling of the helm we may easily make shipwreck.

III. Yet this acclimatisation of character is happily possible, as we learn from our text. With a patience and skill that science cannot rival, with subtle and inexhaustible resources, Nature effects marvellous acclimatisations in plants and flowers, creating in regions intermediate between hot and cold climates a profuse vegetation of a tropical character which can, nevertheless, sustain almost an arctic severity. Grace effects much the same thing for human nature. "I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me". What is entirely impossible in artificial acclimatisation is effected by Nature; and that which is unattainable in character through any artifice of our own becomes delightfully actual and experimental through the grace of Christ In a high and sincere spirituality of life we attain perfect liberty touching the outside world, drawing wisdom and blessing from all surroundings and sensations, as the bee sips honey from flowers of all shapes and colours.

—W. L. Watkinson, Inspiration in Common Life, p108.

The Power of the Cross

Philippians 4:13

"Crucified with Christ" Such is the language in which the author of the Epistle to the Philippians elsewhere describes his relation to Calvary. But is there any life which, unless we are admitted to its secret history, seems less like crucifixion than the career of the stout Apostle Paul? There is no paleness in its presentation. Its hours are crowded with glorious life. It is romantic, adventurous, and vivid. If happiness indeed consist in the unimpeded exercise of function there is abundance of this quality in the missionary journeys which the Acts records. St. Paul is perhaps the most vigorous, efficient, self-realising character in the pages of the New Testament He who bids the Christian imitate the humility of Him who took upon Him the form of a slave is himself one of the world"s masters. He would withstand you to the face as soon as look at you. He knows his mind and carries through his purpose. No doubt he was impatient of dull wits, and was, it may be, too ready to call the tiresome unbeliever a fool, the priestly bully a whited wall. None can deny him the honour of the strong Prayer of Manasseh, who leaves his Mark, creates ideals, and makes history. "I can do all things" seems to portray the man more faithfully than "I am crucified".

His missionary journeys rival in interest the travels of Odysseus. They impress us by the fulness of their experience rather than by the greatness of their self-sacrifice. The strong man delights in dangers, in hair-breadth escapes, in critical situations. The adventurous lad who first hears the celebrated catalogue of Pauline perils hardly pities the man who encountered them. These are all in the day"s work of him who would earn the reward of efficiency.

I. The Christian, then, according to the type which is presented to us in the New Testament, is the man that can do all things, or, to borrow a striking phrase from the Lord"s own teaching, who through faith can remove mountains. The characteristic note of the Gospel is not sacrifice but salvation. "In hoc signo vinces" is the legend inscribed upon the banner of the cross. Calvary is the symbol not of renunciation but of life. It is very easy to get a distorted view of the real message which the Gospel brings to human needs if we go for our ideals outside the range of the Apostolic Church, if we seek for the pattern of Christian manhood whether in mediaeval or modern times. We need not hesitate to acknowledge the witness of the saints in every age to the manifoldness of Christ if we look rather to the New Testament for the due proportions of Christian discipleship.

The gospel of the cross was no apotheosis of pain, but the proclamation of power. It presents to our gaze a spectacle of Divine tenderness only because it is the message of victorious life. And for St Paul it is the Gospel which is the fixed thing in Christianity; the inviolable unchangeable centre of authority; the standard presentation of the fact of Christ which gives unity, cohesion, and solidity to all the riches of wisdom and knowledge which are hid in Him.

II. In Jesus pain is transmuted into power, only because to Him is given all authority in heaven and in earth, and in His hands He bears the keys of hell. In Him we behold no servile submission of the creature to the Law of the God who made it He is Himself the very son and substance of the Everlasting Will, enthroning the humanity which He assumes, manifested as the goal and destiny of all creation. How near to every age and to each human life He seems—how near and yet how far! As, when some traveller among the mountains has climbed the shoulder of a westward hill and almost thinks his journey at an end, the scene expands; the perspective widens; ridge behind ridge, alp behind alp, peak behind peak appears, rising in stairs and terraces to meet the horizon now almost lost in dreamy distances of dazzling light; so Christ the end of human life becomes a vaster Christ the nearer we attain.

But with God all things are possible. This is no formal acknowledgment of an omnipotence which, if it have concrete existence, is a fact too general and remote to have any real bearing upon the practical concerns of life, but a great experience which has made men strong. "Ye shall receive power" was the form in which the risen Master renewed the promise of an energising influence, an inward presence, a controlling Personality, which entering into His elect should make them sons of God. "Repent ye and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins," such was the burthen of St. Peter"s witness on the Day of Pentecost, "and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit".

—J. G. Simpson, Christus Crucifixus, p25.

Philippians 4:13

Cardinal Vaughan wrote in the spring of1882: "I am fifty years old. It is said that no man becomes a saint after fifty. I am determined to give no peace to myself or to my Holy Patrons, or indeed to our dear Lord Himself. By prayer even this miracle can be performed, and a dry, hard, stupid old stick like me can reach great sanctity in eo qui me confortat. St. Francis of Sales died at fifty-six: St. Francis of Assisi, Xavier, and St. Charles were dead and saints about ten years earlier. What a grace to have spatium paenitentiae. I am determined to use the remaining time better than the last, God helping."

—J. G. Snead-Cox, Life of Cardinal Vaughan, vol1. p452.

References.—IV:13.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi. No346. J. B. Lightfoot, Cambridge Sermons, p317. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. i. p400. F. A. Noble, Christian World Pulpit, vol1. p162. T. F. Crosse, Sermons (2Series), p122. J. A. Alexander, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, p410. J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p210. J. G. Simpson, Christus Crucifixus, p25. IV:14.—Ibid. p216.

Philippians 4:15

Nothing is harder to manage, on either side, than the sense of an obligation conferred or received.

—Morley"s, Life of Cobden (ch1.).

The law of benefit is a difficult channel, which requires careful sailing or rude boats.


References.—IV:15.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. viii. pp122, 135; ibid. (7th Series), vol. vi. p371. IV:16.—Ibid. (4th Series), vol. x. p333. IV:17.—Bishop Westcott, The Incarnation and Common Life, p195. IV:18.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. vi. p194. IV:19.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix. No1712. H. J. Bevis, Sermons, p131. IV:19, 20.—J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p222. IV:20-23.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Philippians, p74.

The Saints of Caesar"s Household

Philippians 4:22

It is the chiefly upon which I want to lav the stress—that the warmest and most loving salutation should have come from the unlikeliest place. St. Paul is sending a letter to the Church at Philippi. He sits in all the rude discomforts of a prison, writing amidst much difficulty, secured by a coupling chain to a soldier. Is this life wasted? He is preaching in this prison to a greater congregation than could ever be gathered in the market place or on Mars" Hill. At that hour, when time seemed to stand still, he was preaching to all the ages. And this day this word is ours because Paul was in prison. But of this ministry in the dungeon the fruit was not only afar off in the future, it was immediate.

I. Let us think of those of whom St. Paul writes, "the saints of Caesar"s household"—certainly the last place to which we should go to look for saints. Rome at that time was the most unlikely place in the world to look for a saint. No language could utter the depth of abomination to which it had sunk. And of all its people the most miserable was the lot of the slave. So many of these were there that they could only be kept in subjection by the most terrible severity. To complete it all they were slaves in Caesar"s household. This Caesar was Nero—a very monster in iniquity. Here it Isaiah, then, where the example and influence of this monster had poisoned the very atmosphere—within the walls of Nero"s palace—that a little company of his own slaves gather in loving fellowship around Paul the prisoner, and send their loving greeting to the Church at Philippi.

II. To us, too, the saints of Caesar"s household send their greetings. (1) There are those whose position seems to make Christianity a difficulty—they may think sometimes, perhaps, almost an impossibility. My brother, my sister, these saints of Caesar"s household salute you. What think you would they count those hindrances of which you make so much? (2) And yet again, others shrink in fear of themselves. Surely, again, these saints of Caesar"s household salute you! (8) Does it seem to some that their sphere is so little, so narrow, so lowly, that there is no room for any service for God? Again the saints of Caesar"s household salute you.

—M. G. Pearse, The Gentleness of Jesus, p125.

Saints in the Household of Caesar

Philippians 4:22

There are few contrasts so startling as that which is suggested by this Epistle to the Philippians. We read our pagan history and we read our Bible, but it is not often that the two come so close together and that the lines of both histories touch for one moment to separate again. Here we have for the first time that union of sacred and profane history. Here seems to commence that long struggle between the religion of Christ and the Empire of Rome, which ended by establishing the Gospel upon the ruins of the Eternal City. Here we read of Philippi, the advanced guard of the ambition of Macedonian kings, but now the seat of a Christian Church. Philippi, on whose battlefield the future of the world was decided just a hundred years before, now sending Epaphroditus to bear comfort and help to the Apostle in his Roman prison. Everything seems to point to the same contrast between the inspired word of Christian advice as written in this Epistle and the Roman Praetorian command, between the purity and piety of the writer and that golden palace of sin and shame outside the walls of which he wrote, between the preaching of St. Paul, Apostle of Christ, and Nero, Emperor of Rome, tyrant, matricide, and anti-Christ. There, for two years, as we know, waiting for his trial, the Apostle abode, and thither came many of his friends, Timotheus, Luke, Aristarehus, Marcus, Demas—their names are familiar to the whole Christian world; but who are these of whom the text speaks, "saints of Caesar"s household"? We do not know. The Bible is silent. The history of the world has passed them over, the history of the Church knows them not. By chance, indeed, in the dark recesses of the Catacombs, amid the quaint symbols of the hope of immortality, their names may even now be deciphered, but beyond that we know them not.

I. Christians under Adverse Circumstances.—It is about them that I would fain say to you just two words. One is that if we can conceive of any place in the world more unlikely than another at that day in which to find a Christian man it was Nero"s palace. If we had been asked where we should expect to hear of a Christian in Rome, Nero"s gilded palace would be the very last place which would be mentioned. A friend of Paul, a follower of Jesus Christ in that palace of bastard art, and lust, and murder! What sins he must have witnessed, what temptations must have beset his path, what responsibility, what difficulties, I had almost said what impossibilities, in the way of a Christian life. Well, then, the encouragement to us is this, that, if there, then anywhere it is possible to be a follower of our Blessed Lord. The encouragement Isaiah, that there must surely be no difficulties of life, no post of duty, no situation of temptation, in which a Christian Prayer of Manasseh, by the grace of God, may not work his life unharmed. All may learn by this example the sufficiency of the Grace of God to sustain and strengthen them in the most adverse circumstances.

II. Our Real Danger.—The world in which we live, our domestic, professional, social, political world, it is to us Caesar"s household. We have to live there, work there, wait there for our Blessed Master, and, though of course superficially the world has changed, there is no arena, there is no garment of flaming pitch, there is no fierce cry, of "Christians to the lions!" nothing that could tempt to apostasy in our case, or offer excuse to weak human nature to compromise with sin and infidelity, yet our dangers are no less real. The world Isaiah, after all, though softer and gentler, no less dangerous to Christian men, because day by day they are brought in contact with those who neither serve nor know our Divine Master, and then zeal in duty brings its own temptation, earthly labour has its own peril. Our fees are really not so much the foes that we find in the world, but the foe we bear about with us wherever we go. But a heart right with God, a mind directed by His Spirit, a habit of dependence on His grace and of prayer, a habit of close walking with our Lord and Saviour, these will keep a man safe anywhere, and the more difficult it is to make profession of faith in our own individual circumstances, so much the more distinct and decided by the grace of God may that profession be.

III. Never Despair of Finding Good Men Anywhere.—Moreover, I think that from these unknown saints in Caesar"s household we may all of us, men and women, learn a lesson of charity, never to despair of finding good men anywhere. God sees not as we see, sufficient if He knows His own, and will one day bring them into the light. Depend upon it there will be many in heaven whom we did not expect to meet For God"s servants are often hidden sometimes from pure unobtrusiveness, sometimes from a shrinking fear lest they should after profession fall and bring dishonour on the cause, sometimes again from circumstances which have not brought out their character before those with whom they live. But let us comfort ourselves with the assurance that God knows them and will declare them one day. We ourselves are blind and err in our judgment, and we have no right to pass sentence on one another. Let it be enough for us that our heavenly Father allots to all His children the post that they are to take in life, and when the pressure is too strong or the temptation too great for their strength, then the same loving Father will assuredly call them from it, or if not then, He can by His grace sustain them in it and hold up their goings that they slip not, for if there could be saints in the golden palace of Nero it is incongruous and illogical to suppose that there is any post of earthly duty or difficulty or temptation to which we could be subjected, in which we could plead that it is impossible to do right.

References.—IV:22.—J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p234. J. Tolefree Parr, The White Life, p106. J. Thew, Broken Ideals, p97. IV:23.—J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p239.

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament




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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Philippians 4:8. The thought of this paragraph (Philippians 4:8-9) is closely connected with that of the preceding by the resumption of the phrase . . (Philippians 4:7) in a new form . (Philippians 4:9). The peace of God will be the guardian of their thoughts and imaginations, only they must do their part in bending their minds to worthy objects. Lft[33]. and Ws[34]. have elaborate classifications of Paul’s list of moral excellences. It is not probable, in the circumstances, that any such was before the Apostle’s mind.— is probably used to show that he is hastening to a close. See on chap. Philippians 3:1supr. Beyschl. well remarks on the “inexhaustibility” of the Christian moral ideal which is here presented. It embraces practically all that was of value in ancient ethics.— and express the very foundations of moral life. If truth and righteousness are lacking, there is nothing to hold moral qualities together.— . “Reverend.” The due appreciation of such things produces what M. Arnold would call “a noble seriousness” (so also Vinc.).— . Our “lovely” in its original force gives the exact meaning, “those things whose grace attracts”. The idea seems to be esp[35]. applied to personal bearing towards others. See Sirach 4:7, ; Sirach 20:13, . Cf. W. Pater’s description of the Church in the second century: “She had set up for herself the ideal of spiritual development under the guidance of an instinct by which, in those serious moments, she was absolutely true to the peaceful soul of her Founder. ‘Goodwill to men,’ she said, in whom God Himself is well-pleased.’ For a little while at least there was no forced opposition between the soul and the body, the world and the spirit, and the grace of graciousness itself was pre-eminently with the people of Christ” (Marius, ii., p. 132).— . Exactly = our “high-toned”. (So also Ell[36].) “Was einen guten Klang hat” (Lips[37].). It is an extremely rare word.— . . . . . “Whatever excellence there be or fit object of praise.” The suggestion of Lft[38]., “Whatever value may exist in (heathen) virtue,” etc., goes slightly beyond the natural sense, from the reader’s point of view. Cf. Sayings of Jew. Fathers, chap. ii., 1, “Rabbi said, which is the right course that a man should choose for himself? Whatsoever is a pride to him that pursues it and brings him honour from men.” On the important range of meanings belonging to , see Dsm[39]., BS[40]., p. 90 ff.— , as Hort (on 1 Peter 1:7) points out, corresponds exactly to and implies it, including in itself the idea of moral approbation. He observes that it refers chiefly to “the inward disposition to acts as actions” (see the whole valuable note).— . . “Make them the subject of careful reflection.” Meditatio ’ praecedit: deinde sequitur opus (Calv.).

[33] Lightfoot.

[34]. Weiss.

[35] especially.

[36] Ellicott.

[37] Lipsius.

[38] Lightfoot.

[39] Deissmann (BS. = Bibelstudien, NBS. = Neue Bibelstudien).

[40] . Bibelstudien



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Honest; honorable and worthy of being respected.

Any virtue-praise; any thing truly virtuous or praiseworthy.

Think on these things; attend to and practise them. Professors of religion should be careful never to falsify their word, or be mean or dishonorable, unjust, impure, or unamiable; but conscientiously and habitually to practise whatever deserves to be respected and is praiseworthy.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary

THERE ARE TWO words in the first verse which direct our thoughts to what has gone before: “Therefore” and “so.” We are to stand fast in the Lord therefore, that is, because of, or in view of, what has just been stated. Well, what has been stated? Our heavenly calling, our heavenly citizenship, our expectation of that body of glory, fashioned like unto Christ’s in which we shall enter into our heavenly portion. No uncertainty here! And no disappointment when the moment of realization comes! We may well stand fast in the Lord!

But we are to stand fast so, that is, in like manner to the way in which Paul himself stood fast as delineated in chapter 3. We are to be “followers together” of him, and have him “for an ensample,” as he told us. If we too find in the knowledge of Christ an excellency that far outshines all else, we shall indeed “stand fast in the Lord.” Our affections, our very beings will be so rooted in Him that nothing can move us.

As we have previously noticed the adversary was attempting to mar the testimony through the Philippians by means of dissension. In verse Philippians 4:2 we discover that at the moment the trouble largely centred in two excellent women who were in their midst. The Apostle now turns to them, naming them with the entreaty that they be of the same mind in the Lord. The three words emphasized are of all importance. If both came thoroughly under the domination of the Lord, having their hearts set for Him as Paul’s was, differences of mind, which existed at that moment, would disappear. The mind of Euodias as to the matter, and Syntyche’s mind, would disappear and the mind of the Lord would remain. Thus they would be of the same mind by having the Lord’s mind.

Verse Philippians 4:3 appears to be a request to Epaphroditus, who was returning to Philippi bearing this letter, that he would help these two women in the matter, for they had been in the past devoted labourers in the Gospel along with the Apostle himself, Clement and others. If they could be helped the main root of dissension would be removed.

With verse Philippians 4:4 we come back to the exhortation of the first verse of Philippians 3:1-21. There we were told to rejoice in the Lord. Here we are to rejoice in the Lord alway; for nothing is to be allowed to divert us from it. Further, he emphasizes by repeating the word, that we are to rejoice. We are not merely to believe and to trust, we are also to rejoice.

This leads to the consideration of things that would hinder our rejoicing in the Lord. The harsh unyielding spirit that always insists on its own rights is one of these things, for it is a fruitful source of discontent and self-occupation. In contrast thereto we are to be characterized by moderation and gentleness, for the Lord is near and He will undertake our cause.

Then again there are the varied testings and worries of life, things which have a tendency to fill our hearts with anxious care. In regard to these prayer is our resource. We should mingle thanksgivings with our prayers, for we should ever be mindful of the abundant mercies of the past. And the scope of our prayers is only limited by the word, “everything.”

This scripture invites us to turn everything into a matter of prayer, and freely make known our requests to God. There is no guarantee, you notice, that all our requests will be granted. That would never do for our understanding is very limited and consequently we often ask for that which, if granted to us, would be neither to the glory of our Lord nor to our own blessing. What is guaranteed is that our hearts and minds shall be guarded by the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. Again and again when Christians have passed through trials, from which they had in vain requested to be exempted, we find them looking back and saying, “I am a wonder to myself. How I could have passed through so heavy a trial, and yet have been lifted above it into such serenity, I cannot understand.”

“The peace of God,” must be distinguished from “peace with God,” of which we read in Romans 5:1. That is the peace in relation to God, which comes from the knowledge of being justified before Him. This is the peace, in character like unto God’s own peace, which fills our hearts when having committed everything to Him in prayer, we trust in His love and wisdom on our behalf, and consequently have anxious care as to nothing.

It may also be helpful to distinguish between prayer as presented in this passage and as presented in John 14:13, John 14:14. There the Lord was speaking more particularly to the Apostolic band, in their character as the representatives that He was leaving behind Him in the world, and He gives them plenary powers as regards prayer in His Name. The force of “in My Name,” is “as My representatives.” This praying in His Name is a tremendously responsible and solemn thing. Every cheque drawn really in His Name on the Bank of Heaven will be honoured. Only we must be very careful that we do not draw cheques for purely personal purposes of our own, under cover of drawing in His Name. That would be a kind of misappropriation of trust funds! And let us remember that in the Bank of Heaven there is a penetrating vision which can infallibly discriminate between the cheque which is genuinely in His Name and the one which is not.

Still, though there are a thousand and one matters in our lives that we could hardly present to God in prayer as being directly connected with the Name and interests of Christ, yet we have full liberty to present them to God, and indeed are bidden to do so. As we do so we may be in the enjoyment of the peace of God. We may be anxious as to nothing, because prayerful as to everything, and thankful for anything.

Anxious care being driven out of our hearts there is room for all that is good to come in. Of this verse Philippians 4:8 speaks. One can hardly exaggerate the importance of having the mind filled with all that is true and pure and lovely, the highest expression of which is found in Christ. Our lives are so largely controlled by our thoughts, and hence it says, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Hence to have our minds filled with what is true and just and pure is like a high road leading to a life marked by truth and justice and purity. We have of necessity to come into contact with much that is evil, but needlessly to occupy ourselves with it is disastrous, and a source of spiritual weakness.

But if the supreme and perfect expression of all these good things was found in Christ, there was also a very real exhibition of them in the life of the Apostle himself. The Philippians had not only learned and received and heard them, but also seen them in Paul, and what they had seen they themselves were to do. To DO, notice, for the excellent things that fill our minds are to come into practical display in our lives. Then indeed the God of peace shall be with us, which is something beyond the peace of God filling our hearts.

With verse Philippians 4:10 the closing messages of the epistle begin, and Paul again refers to the gift which the Philippians had sent him. That gift had been a cause of great rejoicing to him in his imprisonment. He knew that he had not been out of their thoughts, but they had not had opportunity to send help until this occasion of the journey of Epaphroditus. It had now arrived most opportunely; yet his joy was not primarily because it relieved him of privation, as the beginning of verse Philippians 4:11 shows, but because he knew it meant more fruit towards God, which would be to their credit in the coming day, as verse Philippians 4:17 shows.

Speaking of want or privation leads the Apostle to give us a wonderful insight into the way in which he faced his sufferings and imprisonment. These tragic circumstances had become to him a fountain of practical instruction, for he had learned to be content. To be content in present circumstances, no matter what they be, was not natural to Paul any more than it is to us. But he had learned it. And learned it, not as a matter of theory, but in experimental fashion by passing through the most adverse circumstances, with his heart full of Christ, as we see in chapter 3. Hence he was able to face changes of the most violent sort. Abasement or abounding, fulness or hunger, abounding or acute privation, all was the same to Paul, for Christ was the same, and all Paul’s resources and joys were in Him.

In Christ Paul had strength for all things, and the same strength in the same way is available for every one of us. If only we exploited all that is in Christ for us we could do all things. But Paul did not simply say, “I could,” but rather, “I can.” It is easy to admire the wonderful fortitude, the serene superiority to circumstances which marked the Apostle, and it is not difficult to discern the source of his power, but it is another thing to tread in his steps. That is hardly possible except we go through his circumstances, or similar ones. Here it is that our weakness is so manifest. We conform to the world, we lack spiritual vigour and aggressiveness, we avoid the suffering, and we miss the spiritual education. We cannot say, “I have learned... I know... I am instructed... I can do,” as Paul could. It is just as well that we should candidly face these defects that mark us, lest we should think that we are “rich and increased with goods,” that we are picked Christians of the twentieth century, and consequently as to “spiritual intelligence” almost the last word as to what Christians ought to be.

The Apostle then was not in any sense dependent on the gifts of the Philippian saints or of others, and he would have them know it; yet though this was so he assures them, and that in a very delicate and beautiful way, that he was fully alive to the love and devotion both towards the Lord and himself that had prompted their gift. He recognized that the Philippians peculiarly shone in this grace, and had done so from the first moment that the Gospel had reached them. They had thought of him in the past, when no other assemblies had done so, both in Macedonia and Thessalonica, and now again in Rome.

The devotion of the Philippians in this respect was heightened by the fact that they were very poor. We are enlightened as to this in 2 Corinthians 8:2. They also had been in much affliction themselves, and they had experienced much joy in the Lord. All this is very instructive for us. Oftentimes we are unsympathetic and stingy because our own experiences both of suffering and spiritual refreshment are so very shallow.

Having received of their bounty through Epaphroditus, Paul would have them know that now he had a full supply and was enjoying abundance. But their gift had not only met his need, it was in the nature of a sacrifice acceptable to God, like to those sacrifices of a sweet smelling odour of which the Old Testament speaks. This was a greater thing still.

But what of the Philippians themselves? They had further impoverished themselves, further reduced their already slender resources by their gifts in favour of an aged prisoner who could in no wise reciprocate or help them. Paul felt this and in verse Philippians 4:19 he expresses his confidence as to them. God would supply all their need. Notice how he speaks of Him as, “My God,”—the God whom Paul knew and had practically tested for himself. That God would be their Supplier, not according to their need, nor even according to Paul’s ardent desires on their behalf, but according to His own riches in glory in Christ Jesus. It would have been a wonderful thing had God engaged to supply them according to His riches on earth in Christ Jesus. His riches in glory are more wonderful still. The Philippians or ourselves may never be rich in the things of earth and yet be enriched in the things of glory. If so we shall indeed respond, in attributing glory to God our Father for ever and ever.

It is interesting to note in the closing word of salutation that there were saints found even in Caesar’s household. The first chapter told us that his bonds had been manifested as being in Christ in all the palace, and if in all the palace even to Caesar himself, we suppose. But with some of his attendants and servants things had gone further than that, and they had been converted. In a great stronghold of the adversary’s power souls had been translated from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.

Such triumphs does grace effect! How fittingly comes the closing desire, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

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Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary


Philippians 4:1-9

What a strong and faithful heart was Paul’s! Poor and despised though he was, he had both joys and crowns of which no hostile force could deprive him. He lived in the encompassing atmosphere of eternity, as we may. Surely these two Christian women could not have withstood this tender exhortation; and all his fellow-workers must have been heartened by the thought that their names were dear to Christ, and entered in the birthday book of the twice-born.

Joy and peace are the subjects of the next paragraph. How wonderful that these struggling little churches were drinking of springs of which the princes and citizens of Greece and Rome knew nothing. Note the conditions. We must be moderate in our ambitions and gentle in our behavior. We must ever practice the presence of our Lord-He is always at hand. We must turn over all causes of anxiety to the Father’s infinite care and leave them with Him. We must thank Him for the past, and count on Him for the future. While we pray, the Angel of Peace will descend to stand as sentry at our heart’s door. But we must possess the God of peace as well as the peace of God-the one condition being that we must earnestly pursue all things that are true, just, pure, and lovely.

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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". 1914.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible




1. Stand fast and rejoice (Philippians 4:1-4)

2. Dependence on God and true heart occupation (Philippians 4:5-9)

3. I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:10-13)

4. The fellowship of the Philippians (Philippians 4:14-20)

5. The greeting (Philippians 4:21-23)

Philippians 4:1-4

And now the final testimony of the prisoner of the Lord, telling us from his own experience that Christ is sufficient for all circumstances down here. The first verse is filled with the precious fragrance of the great apostle’s affection. What refreshment there is for all His dear saints in these opening words of this chapter! “Therefore my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, dearly beloved.” How he loved the saints and longed for them. He looked upon them as his joy and crown; his joy down here and his crown in the day of Christ. So the aged John testified, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4). They were to stand fast in the Lord, for this gives strength and the Lord constantly before the heart and mind gives victory. Euodias and Syntyche, two sisters in the Lord, are exhorted to be of the same mind in the Lord. They had difficulties and had become separated. How graciously and tenderly they are exhorted to overcome their differences. The true yokefellow is probably Epaphroditus, who was now fully restored and carried this letter to the Philippians. Paul requests him to assist those women who had contended with him in the gospel, of course in the sphere which belongs to woman. And there were Clement and other fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life. These names are known to Him and in His day their labors will come to light and they will receive their reward. It is enough for the laborers to know that his name, though unknown to the world, is in the book of life, and his service, though unapplauded by the world, has His approval. Once more he exhorts to rejoice in the Lord alway, under all circumstances, at all times. And again I say, Rejoice. He did not write such words when he was taken up into the third heaven, but these blessed words come from the prison in Rome. When the Lord is before the heart, if He is the controlling principle of our life, the pattern and the goal, never lost sight of, then He giveth songs in the night.

“Were a light at the end of a long straight alley, I would not have the light itself till I get to it; but I have ever increasing light in proportion as I go forward; I know it better. I am more in the light myself. Thus it is with a glorified Christ, and such is the Christian life.”

Philippians 4:5-9

And this walk in Christ and with Christ must be characterized by dependence on God. “Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” Walking thus means to walk in meekness, not reaching out after the things which are but for a moment, content with such things as we have, never asserting one’s right. Moderation means to put a check upon our own will. How easy all this becomes if we just have it as a present reality that the Lord is nigh and that when He comes all will be made right. A little while longer and all will be changed. And while we walk here in His fellowship, His command to us is, “Be anxious for nothing.” All rests in His loving hands. His people have tribulation down here. He told us so. “In the world ye shall have tribulation; be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And prayer is our refuge. Most blessed words! How the child of God loves, appreciates and makes use of them! “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” We can cast all our cares upon Him, for we know He careth for us. He is our burden bearer. We may look upon all our burdens as being permitted by Him so that we may give them back to Him and find out His love and power.

“We are in relationship with God; in all things He is our refuge; and events do not disturb Him. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows everything, He knows it beforehand; events shake neither His throne, nor His heart; they always accomplish His purposes. But to us He is love; we are through grace the objects of His tender care. He listens to us and bows down His ear to hear us. In all things therefore, instead of disquieting ourselves and weighing everything in our hearts, we ought to present our requests to God with prayer, with supplication, with a heart that makes itself known (for we are human beings) but with the knowledge of the heart of God (for He loves us perfectly); so that, even while making our petition to Him, we can already give thanks, because we are sure of the answer of His grace, be it what it may; and it is our requests that we are to present to Him. Nor is it a cold commandment to find out His will and then come: we are to go with our requests. Hence it does not say, you will have what you ask; but God’s peace will keep your hearts. This is trust; and His peace, the peace of God Himself, shall keep our hearts. It does not say that our hearts shall keep the peace of God; but, having cast our burden on Him whose peace nothing can disturb, His peace keeps our hearts. Our trouble is before Him, and the constant peace of the God of love, who takes charge of everything and knows all beforehand, quiets our disburdened hearts, and imparts to us the peace which is in Himself and which is above all understanding (or at least keeps our hearts by it), even as He Himself is above all the circumstances that can disquiet us, and above the poor human heart that is troubled by them. oh, what grace! that even our anxieties are a means of our being filled with this marvellous peace, if we know how to bring them to God, and true He is. May we learn indeed How to maintain this intercourse with God and its reality, in order that we may converse with Him and understand His ways with believers!” (Synopsis of the Bible).

Our prayers may not always be answered as we want to have them answered, for He alone knows what is best. We speak to Him about our cares and put them thus into His heart and He puts His own peace into our hearts.

What are thy wants today? Whate’er they be Lift up thy heart and pray: God heareth thee, Then trustfully rely that all thy need He surely will supply in every deed. But every prayer of thine, and every want Of either thine or mine, He may not grant, Yet all our prayers God hears, and He will show Some day, in coming years, He best did know--C. Murray

And in the life down here, surrounded by every form of evil, we are to be occupied with only that which is good, things true, things noble, just, pure, lovely, things of good report; if there be any virtue or any praise, think on these things. This is the way how peace of mind and blessing, happiness and joy may be maintained, not being occupied with the evil which surrounds us, or the evil in others, but with the very opposite. The Word of God is given to us for this purpose. As we read it prayerfully and meditate on it we are kept in that which is good, true, noble, just and lovely. Walking according to these exhortations they would find that the God of peace is with them. And so shall we.

Philippians 4:10-13

Paul also rejoiced in the Lord greatly because their care for him had flourished again, and added “wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.” They had ministered to him as the Lord’s servant, in temporal things. The words, “now at last your care of me hath flourished again,” indicates that they had delayed their ministration, but he puts another meaning upon it. He does not insinuate that it was a failure and neglect on their side, “but ye lacked opportunity.” He did not mention this in respect of want. “For I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” He had learned it all practically and knew about being abased and abounding--”everywhere and in all things I have learned the secret, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer want. I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” The secret of this victory over all circumstances, whether good or evil, was Christ. It was “not I but Christ.” In himself he had no strength, but all His strength to be abased and to abound, to be full or hungry, in abounding and in suffering want, was the Lord Jesus Christ. And this strength continually flows from and is supplied by our relationship with Christ as it is maintained by faith in a close walk with Him. He had learnt to trust Him fully; he trusted Him and walked in fellowship with Him in adversity, and, also, which is more difficult, in prosperity. His faith always reckoned on Christ. He kept him from being careless and indifferent, when he was full and abounded in all things and He kept him from being discouraged and dissatisfied when he suffered privations. He had found Christ sufficient in every circumstance. This is the happy life, which, too, we may live if Christ is our object and our all.

(Prosperity in earthly things is for many children of God a snare. The person who requested prayer for a brother who was getting rich made a good request. We need more prayer and need more watching when all goes well and when we abound. Then the danger to become unspiritual and indifferent is great.)

Philippians 4:14-20

He reminds them of their faithfulness to himself; he had not forgotten their love and what they had done in the past. He delighted in the remembrance of it, nor does God forget the ministries to His servants. “But to do good and communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16). “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which you have showed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10). Yet he does not want them to misunderstand him, as if he was anxious to receive further fellowship from them for his personal need. Therefore he adds, “Not because I desire a gift, but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound; I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.” In reminding them and himself of their love he did not desire more gifts for the sake of having them, but he desired the fruit which would result from their faithfulness and liberality, which would abound to their account in the day of Christ. All ministry to God’s servants and to the saints should be done from this viewpoint.

“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” The God whom He had learnt to know so well in all circumstances--my God, as he called Him--would supply all their need. It is not a wish that He may do so, nor a prayer that he prays, but it is an assured fact. He knows his God so well that he counts on Him for the supply of all the need of the beloved saints according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:21-23

The greetings close this blessed little Epistle of love and joy, so full of the realities of true Christian experience, made possible for every child of God through the indwelling Spirit. He sends his greetings to every saint and conveys the greetings of the saints with him, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household. Blessed hint that even there the gospel had manifested its power in the salvation of some.

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Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

Passing from particular to general instruction, the apostle first enjoined the grace of rejoicing. Twice he repeated his injunction. Moreover, he charged the Philippians that forbearance toward all men should be manifested. Continuing, he showed that the cure for anxiety is supplication with thanksgiving. In this connection he used that remarkable phrase, "the peace of God." Observe it carefully, the peace of God, His quietness as serenity, based on His infinite knowledge and unlimited power. Well does the apostle declare that it passes all understanding. This is the peace which is to guard the heart of such as make their requests known to God. To know that He knows, to be sure that He cares, to obey in the confidence that He is able to accomplish all His perfect will, is to have the heart at rest, and the thoughts guarded against anxiety, and free for highest service.

The mind thus guarded by the peace of God is set free to think on the highest things which Paul here named. Drawing to the conclusion of his letter, the apostle expressed thankfulness for the love manifested to him by the saints at Philippi, and declared that in all things he had learned the secret of rest in the midst of varying circumstances. That secret is ultimately revealed in the words, "I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me."

The deepest reason for his thankfulness for their care is not selfish, but that their giving meant that fruit increased to their account. What a fulness of thought there is in the declaration so familiar, and yet forevermore surprising. "My God shall supply every need of yours, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

The doxology constitutes a fitting expression of the experience of the Christian. This prisoner of the Lord Jesus recognizing his relationship to God, ascribes to Him the glory and is thus seen superior to all the limitations which characterized his position. The last words are those of personal and tender salutation by the pronouncement of the single and inclusive benediction of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,.... To close all with respect to the duties of Christianity incumbent on the professors of it, the apostle exhorts to a regard to everything that is true; that is agreeable to the Scriptures of truth, to the Gospel the word of truth, or to the law and light of nature; and whatever was really so, even among the very Heathens, in opposition to falsehood, lying, and hypocrisy

whatsoever things are honest; in the sight of men; or grave, or "venerable" in speech, in action or attire, in opposition to levity, frothiness, or foppery:

whatsoever things are just; between man and man, or with respect both to God and men; giving to God what belongs to him, and to man what is his due; studying to exercise a conscience void of offence to both, in opposition to all impiety, injustice, violence, and oppression:

whatsoever things are pure; or "chaste", in words and deeds, in opposition to all filthiness and foolish talking, to obscene words and actions. The Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions render it, "whatsoever things are holy"; which are agreeable to the holy nature, law, and will of God, and which tend to promote holiness of heart and life:

whatsoever are lovely; which are amiable in themselves, and to be found even among mere moral men, as in the young man whom Christ as man is said to love, Mark 10:21; and which serve to cultivate and increase love, friendship, and amity among men; and which things also are grateful to God and lovely in his sight, in opposition to all contention, strife, wrath, and hatred:

whatsoever things are of good report; are well spoken of, and tend to get and establish a good name, which is better than precious ointment, Ecclesiastes 7:1; for though a good name, credit, and reputation among men, are to be sacrificed for the sake of Christ when called for; yet care is to be taken to preserve them by doing things which may secure them, and cause professors of religion to be well reported of; and which beautiful in all, and absolutely necessary in some:

if there be any virtue; anywhere, among any persons whatever, in opposition to vice:

and if there be any praise; that is praiseworthy among men, and deserves commendation, even though in an unjust steward, Luke 16:8, it should be regarded. The Vulgate Latin adds, "of discipline", without any authority from any copy. The Claromontane manuscript reads, "if any praise of knowledge":

think on these things: meditate upon them, revolve them in your minds, seriously consider them, and reason with yourselves about them, in order to put them into practice.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

Thinking On Things That Will Yield the Peace of God

Those things given thoughtful consideration will have a great impact on one"s life (; Proverbs 7:1-27; Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 12:34). Knowing this, Paul gave a list of things to think on. He would have Christians think on "true things," which would be things in accord with God"s word (John 17:17). "Noble things" would be reverend, serious, combining a sense or gravity and dignity. The word "just" indicates right conduct. "Pure" is used only for those things not contaminated. Pleasing and agreeable things would be "lovely." Only those things with a good reputation would qualify as being "of good report".

The New Bible Commentary: Revised suggests that "virtue is moral excellence. Paul wanted the church at Philippi to love so as to show a moral excellence and praiseworthy type of conduct. To do that, he told them they would have to give close attention to those things just mentioned (Philippians 4:8).

Paul had both taught them and shown them how to live the Christian life. So, he urged them to go on from right thought to right action (1 Corinthians 11:1). Such would result in God, who is the source of peace, being with them (Philippians 4:9; compare vs. 7.)

The Lord Enabled Paul in All Circumstances

The church in Philippi had sent Paul a gift just prior to the time he wrote this letter. Their help was not something new, but a revival of a good work they had done before. From what the apostle also says, it seems they had been wanting to help but had been hindered in some way. Max Hughes says "their lack was not sympathy but of opportunity" (Philippians 4:10).

Even today, as this passage is read, it might appear Paul was suffering through some time of great deprivation. However, Paul said such was not the case because he had learned to be content, or live without assistance, no matter what physical circumstances were his. Notice, he had to learn. It did not come naturally. Paul knew how to suffer through sparse times (2 Corinthians 11:7) and times of plenty. His joy was not based upon his economic status of the moment (Philippians 4:11-12).

Paul could be content no matter what his circumstances because he was in Christ (compare ; Ephesians 1:6-7; Ephesians 1:10-11; Ephesians 2:4-6; Ephesians 2:13). Instead of "through Christ," the American Standard Version has "in him," which reminds us of the location of Paul"s rejoicing as was seen in verse 4. Any true follower of Christ can be confident that all will work out for his good in Christ (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 2:14 a; Romans 8:28; Romans 8:35-39).

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Exhortation to Put on the Mind of Christ: A Promise of God's Peace - Spiritual and Mental Provision - In Paul exhorts the church at Philippi to put on the mind of Christ, in their relationships with others ( Philippians 4:2-3), in their own physical activities ( Philippians 4:4-7), in their thought life ( Philippians 4:8) and in what they had learned from the example of Paul.

Philippians 4:2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

Philippians 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

Philippians 4:3 — "true yokefellow" - Word Study on "true" - Strong says the Greek word "true" ( γνή σιος) (G 1103) means, "legitimately, genuine." The Enhanced Strong says it is used only 4times in the New Testament being translated in the KJV as, "own 2, sincerely 1, true 1."

Comments- Paul compares himself to a plowman, or a farmer, in other passages ( 1 Corinthians 3:6). Here, he is comparing his ministry to a team of oxen who are ploughing a field.

1 Corinthians 3:6, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase."

However, some scholars suggest that Paul was mentioning a proper name of one church member called "Syzygus," whose name means "yokefellow." Paul would have been addressing this individual as "my own Syzygus." We find this same Greek word "true" used by Paul on two other occasions when referring to Timothy as his own true son in the faith.

1 Timothy 1:2, "Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord."

Titus 1:4, "To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour."

Thus, Paul would be saying, "I ask you also, (my) own Syzygus…" In other words, Paul would have personally converted this individual to faith in Christ and is now asking him to do something for his spiritual father.

Philippians 4:3 — "with Clement also" - Comments- Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) tells us that Clement became the third bishop of Rome, after Linus and Anencletus.

"Clement also, who was appointed third bishop of the church at Rome, was, as Paul testifies, his co-laborer and fellow-soldier." (Ecclesiastical History 3410)

"In the twelfth year of the same reign Clement succeeded Anencletus after the latter had been bishop of the church of Rome for twelve years. The apostle in his Epistle to the Philippians informs us that this Clement was his fellow-worker. His words are as follows: ‘With Clement amid the rest of my fellow-laborers whose names are in the book of life.'" (Ecclesiastical History 3151)

"Now concerning those bishops which have been ordained in our lifetime, we let you know that they are these…Of the church of Rome, Linus the son of Claudia was the first, ordained by Paul; and Clemens, after Linus" death, the second, ordained by me Peter." (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 7446)

It is this same Clement that wrote at least one epistle that remains with us until today.

"There is extant an epistle of this Clement which is acknowledged to be genuine and is of considerable length and of remarkable merit. He wrote it in the name of the church of Rome to the church of Corinth, when a sedition had arisen in the latter church. We know that this epistle also has been publicly used in a great many churches both in former times and in our own. And of the fact that a sedition did take place in the church of Corinth at the time referred to Hegesippus is a trustworthy witness." (Ecclesiastical History 3161)

Jerome gives us a short biography of Clement.

"Clement, of whom the apostle Paul writing to the Philippians says ‘With Clement and others of my fellow-workers whose names are written in the book of life,' the fourth bishop of Rome after Peter, if indeed the second was Linus and the third Anacletus, although most of the Latins think that Clement was second after the apostle. He wrote, on the part of the church of Rome, an especially valuable Letter to the church of the Corinthians, which in some places is publicly read, and which seems to me to agree in style with the epistle to the Hebrews which passes under the name of Paul but it differs from this same epistle, not only in many of its ideas, but also in respect of the order of words, and its likeness in either respect is not very great. There is also a second Epistle under his name which is rejected by earlier writers, and a Disputation between Peter and Appion written out at length, which Eusebius in the third book of his Church history rejects. He died in the third year of Trajan and a church built at Rome preserves the memory of his name unto this day." (Lives of Illustrious Men 15)

Philippians 4:3 — "and with other my fellowlabourers" - Comments- Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) tells us that Paul is referring here to many of those whom he has listed in several of his epistles, giving them an eternal memorial by calling their names in his writings.

"But the number and the names of those among them that became true and zealous followers of the apostles, and were judged worthy to tend the churches rounded by them, it is not easy to tell, except those mentioned in the writings of Paul. For he had innumerable fellow-laborers, or "fellow-soldiers," as he called them, and most of them were honored by him with an imperishable memorial, for he gave enduring testimony concerning them in his own epistles." (Ecclesiastical History 343-4)

We can find the names of several of his fellowlabourers, then, by simply looking in his epistles. See a long list of names in Romans 16. See also:

Philemon 1:24, "Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers."

Paul uses the words "fellowprisoners," "fellowlabourers," and "fellowhelpers" in a number of his epistles. These words go deeper in meaning than just describing their personal relationships with Paul. It also describes their spiritual relationship with him in the sense that they were partners and partakers of Paul's sufferings as well as his heavenly rewards. In other words, these words describe people would receive the same rewards in heaven that Paul would receive because they stood with him during these difficult times.

Philippians 4:3 — "whose names are in the book of life" - Scripture References- Note other references to the book of Life:

Exodus 32:32, "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written."

Daniel 12:1, "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."

Revelation 3:5, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."

Revelation 21:27, "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb"s book of life."

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:4 — "Rejoice in the Lord" - Comments- Notice that Philippians 4:4 does not tell us to rejoice in our victories or in our blessings. Rather, it tells us to rejoice "in the Lord". Why do we serve the Lord? We serve the Lord because we love Him, and we desire His fellowship rather than serving Him for personal benefits. Therefore, we can rejoice at all times, and not just when our circumstances are to our benefit. Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts:

"Rejoice. Rejoice not so much in victories as in the fact that I am leading. Praise Me. Not so much for My blessings as for My love which prompts them. Serve Me with gladness, not for the ultimate nor present reward, but for the thrill of knowing that we labor together; that I stand beside thee in every enterprise however trivial." 79]

79] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 121.

Jesus told His disciples to rejoice in our relationship with the Lord rather than the benefits of that relationship.

Luke 10:20, "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."

Satan accused Job of serving God for personal benefit rather than for his love towards God.

, "Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face."

, "And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face."

Philippians 4:4Comments- Paul lived this truth of rejoicing in the Lord. He wrote this epistle while in prison. He was determined to finish his course with joy.

Acts 20:24, "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."

Jesus also taught this truth:

John 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Jesus has made a way so that we may live and rejoice in all situations in life.

John 10:10, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts regarding the importance of maintaining our joy:

"Remember that I am in the midst when ye praise me. Never let any kind of anxiety crowd out thy praises. Do not be concerned for My reputation. I have withstood many a storm, and I will survive this one. Man's strivings are as the waters around Gibraltar. They have beat upon the rock, but they have not changed it. I am not disturbed, and I forbid thee to be anxious.

For anxiety genderth to tension, and tension erodes joy; and when joy is gone, victory is lost, faith is weakened, and spontaneity is destroyed. The spirit falls ill. The salt has lost its flavor. Its savor is a saver. What can I use to preserve My work in your midst if ye lose your joy? Rejoice always, said the apostle Paul - and again I say rejoice. Let your stability be observable to all men, for truly, the coming of the Lord is near. Gird up your loins, and be strong; for it is the Lord who upholdeth thee, and He it is who giveth thee the victory. Sing, My children, and let the shout of praise be heart; for the Lord is mighty, and His Name is glorious." 80]

80] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 96.

Philippians 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Philippians 4:6"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication" - Comments - Our stress level is dependent upon how we view the level of loss from an event; the more we perceive we have lost, the more we tend to stress. However, God is asking us to stop viewing loss as a stressful event, for He is more than able to restore what is taken from us. His Word can take us on a journey that lifts us above these earthly circumstances and material possessions. Prayer moves us into eternity and away from the corrupt earthly realm, and in the realm of eternity we are able to see life from a divine perspective, a perspective that is free of anxiety and stress.

"with thanksgiving" - Comments - In Philippians 4:6, we see the principle of sowing and reaping. As we pray, we are able to give thanks for what God has done, and what He will do for us.

"let your requests be made known unto God" - Comments - Paul is about to say in Philippians 4:19 that our God shall supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory. We understand from the context of this Epistle that this tremendous promise is only for those who take care of God's needs first. In this case, the church of Philippi had taken care of Paul's needs for many years. However, we are told in Philippians 4:6 to express these needs to God in order for Him to meet those needs.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7 — "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" - Comments- The peace that abides in our spirit-man cannot be explained in the natural, being a peace that we do not understand. This peace is not the absence of enemies, but the fellowship and presence of God. When the peace of God keeps a believer at peace during the greatest trials of life, those around him usually do not understand how this happens. Even when we, as believers, find this peace in our hearts during trials, we do not understand how this happens, we just learn to walk in it. Thus, this supernatural peace directs its recipients to give praise and glory to God, rather than vain glory to man when victory comes.

Illustration (1) - When David faced one of the greatest losses of his life, the loss of Bathsheba"s first Song of Solomon, he was at peace when told of the child"s death. His servants did not understand how the king could be at such peace during this time ( 2 Samuel 12:21).

2 Samuel 12:21, "Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread."

Illustration (2) - As I watch my brother go thru the most difficult times of his life, a divorce, I see such a peace in his heart. I did not expect him to walk in such peace, but as a believer having experienced it, I know that it can be Song of Solomon, even though I do not understand it.

Philippians 4:7"shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" - Comments- The word "keep" means to guard, so that this divine peace guard our hearts and minds from thoughts of doubt and worry, which war against your peace and faith in God? Like a guard keeps watch over a castle or prison cell that no one or nothing, such as Satan's fiery darts and immoral thoughts, shall in no way enter, so will this peace keep doubt and worry out so that we faint not. We are able to walk in peace because our hearts and minds are guarded from trouble in the midst of trials. See notes on Matthew 6:33.

Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Comments- Note these words from Frances J. Roberts:

"My child, do not share thy burdens with all who come unto thee profession concern. Lo, I, Myself, am the great burden-bearer. Ye need not look for another. I will lead thee and guide thee in wisdom from above. All things shall be as I plan them, if ye allow Me the freedom to shape circumstances and lead thee to the right decisions." 81]

81] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 17.

"My child, lean thy head upon My bosom. Well I know thy weariness, and every burden I would lift. Never bury thy griefs; but offer them up to Me. Thou wilt relieve thy soul of much strain if ye can lay every care in My hand. Never cling to any trouble, hoping to resolve it thyself, but turn it over to Me; and in doing Song of Solomon, ye shall free Me to work it out." 82]

82] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 18.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:8Comments (1) - One preacher said that a person would not get on a train if he did not know where it was going. Yet, people will get on a train of thought that takes them nowhere that is good. When they wind up somewhere that they do not want to be, they ask God why He took them there; yet, they do not know that their train of thoughts took them to their destination. We must be careful what we think because it will lead us on a journey.

Philippians 4:8Comments (2) - Note how the adjectives in Philippians 4:8 are similar to those used in Psalm 19:7-10.

, "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb."

Comments- Promises of Peace to Partners- The promises found in this passage are for those believers who have partnered with Paul in his ministry. Because of their giving, they were in a position to receive. It becomes much easier for a child of God to cast his cares upon the Lord and leave them there with a peace of mind when He is persuaded that God will work it out. For example, my boss had given me several projects to accomplish the next day. I stayed up late that night after the family went to bed and did some Bible studies (January 24, 2004). I finished this study time with a wonderful time of worship. It was such a time of worship that took the pressure off of the cares of the following day. I gave to Him the praise that He was worthy to receive and in return I laid my cares down at His feet with a short prayer. I found my relief in worship, being confident that He would meet my needs, for I had met His.

The following day, I did little but watch God bring about divine appointments so that these two tasks were easily accomplished. I was able to get an attorney and an engineer out on a Sunday afternoon to evaluate a collapsed retaining wall. In addition, my wife wanted to sell a new puppy that we had just purchased. While we were still talking about it, a girl in the neighbourhood came up and offered to purchase this dog. We sold this puppy without advertising it.

As with the church at Philippi, giving and serving the Lord puts us in a position to receive so that when we have a genuine need, we can come to Him in confidence and cast those cares upon Him. For we have seen Him meet our needs in the past. But this only works in the life of a believer. In a few verse, Paul will tell them that his God will supply all of their needs according to His riches in glory ( Philippians 4:19). How can someone worry when His God meets every need? But first, we must take care of God's needs. The Lord once said to me, "You take care of My needs first."

Comments- Setting Our Minds on the Lord - Philippians 4:4-8 shows a progression of events in the life of a believer. When we find our joy in the Lord, we seek less after the pleasures and entertainment of this world (verse 4) and more on the things of God. This frees us from much worry and anxieties. We are better able to live a life of moderation (verse 5). Our attention on the things of God leads us into a life of prayer, and we learn to cast our cares upon the Lord (verse 6). As we pray and guard our hearts from the affections of this world, we find the peace of God dwelling within us (verse 7). We begin to see life from God's perspective and to think on the things of God rather than the things of this world (verse 8). Note these words from Frances J. Roberts about rejoicing in the Lord:

"I have asked thee to give, in order that I may bless thee more. I have challenged thee to pray, so that I may respond and help thee. I have asked thee to rejoice, in order to keep thee from being swallowed up by anxieties. I have asked thee to be humble, to protect thee from calamities that fall upon the proud…." 83]

83] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 22.

"If there be dryness within thy soul and ye have not this life flowing forth, ye need not grieve, neither chide thyself for being empty. Fill up the empty place with praise. Thou mayest by praise open to Me the gates of the temple of thy soul. The King shall enter and bring His glory. The Rose of Sharon shall bloom in thy heart and His fragrance shall be shed abroad." 84]

84] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 42.

"Let thy praises rise in the daytime and in the night. Yea, when thou are utterly spent, then shall My speech fall upon thee. Then shalt thou lie down in peace and rise up in joy, and thou shalt be partaker of a perpetual fountain. As it is written: Out of thine innermost being shall gush forth rivers of living water." 85]

85] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 44.

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Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Glorification: The Father's Promise of Divine Provision as Partners - In Paul reveals practical ways in which they were to think in order to enter into rest in the mist of hardships. In Philippians 4:2-9 Paul exhorts the church at Philippi to put on the mind of Christ, in their relationships with others ( Philippians 4:2-3), in their own physical activities ( Philippians 4:4-7), in their thought life ( Philippians 4:8) and in what they had learned from the example of Paul. In Philippians 4:10-20 Paul exhorts the believers in Philippi on their giving as a way of receiving divine provision from the Lord. The key verse in this section is Philippians 4:19, in which Paul promises that "my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

A. Exhortation to Put on the Mind of Christ —

B. Exhortation on God's Provision —

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Geneva Study Bible

7 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things i [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.

(7) A general conclusion, that as they have been taught both in word and example, so they build their lives to the rule of all holiness and righteousness.

(i) Whatever things are such that they beautify and set you apart with a holy gravity.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

2–9.] Concluding exhortations to individuals (2, 3), and to all (4–9).

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Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

4–9.] Exhortation to ALL.

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Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

8.] τὸ λοιπόν resumes again his intention of closing the Epistle with which he had begun ch. 3., but from which he had been diverted by incidental subjects. It is unnatural to attribute to the Apostle so formal a design as De W. does, of now speaking of man’s part, as he had hitherto of God’s part:—Chrys. has it rightly,— τί ἐστι τὸ λοιπόν: ἀντὶ τοῦ, πάντα ἡμῖν εἴρηται. ἐπειγομένου τὸ ῥῆμά ἐστι, καὶ οὐδὲν κοινὸν ἔχοντος πρὸς τὰ παρόντα.

This beautiful sentence, full of the Apostle’s fervour and eloquence, derives much force from the frequent repetition of ὅσα, and then of εἴ τις.

ἀληθῆ] subjective, truthful: not, true in matter of fact. The whole regards ethical qualities. ταῦτα γὰρ ὄντως ἀληθῆ, ἡ ἀρετή, ψεῦδος δὲ ἡ κακία. κ. γὰρ ἡ ἡδονὴ αὐτῆς ψεῦδος. κ. ἡ δόξα αὐτῆς ψεῦδος, κ. πάντα τὰ τοῦ κόσμου ψεῦδος. Chrys.

σεμνά] τὸ σεμνὸν ὄνομα, τὸ καλόν τε κἀγαθόν, Xen. Œc. vi. 14. It is difficult to give it in any one English word: ‘honest’ and ‘honourable’ are too weak: ‘reverend’ and ‘venerable,’ ‘grave’ are seldom applied to things: Nor do I know any other more eligible.

δίκαια] not ‘just,’ in respect of others, merely—but right, in that wider sense in which δικαιοσύνη is used—before God and man: see this sense Acts 10:22; Romans 5:7.

ἁγνά] not merely ‘chaste’ in the ordinary confined acceptation: but pure generally: “castimoniam denotat in omnibus vitæ partibus.” Calv.

προσφιλῆ] lovely, in the most general sense: no subjects need be supplied, as τοῖς πιστοῖς, or τῷ θεῷ (Chrys.): for the exhortation is markedly and designedly as general as possible.

εὔφημα] again, general, and with reference to general fame—of good report, as E. V. The meaning ‘sermones qui bene aliis precantur,’ adopted by Storr and Flatt, though philologically justified, is evidently not general enough for our context.

εἴ τις ἀρετὴ] sums up all which have gone before and generalizes still further. The E. V. ‘if there be any virtue,’ &c. is objectionable, not for the reason alleged by Scholefield, Hints, &c. p. 85, as ‘expressing a doubt of the existence of the thing in the abstract,’ which it does not,—but as carrying the appearance of an adjuration, ‘by the existence of,’ &c. which conveys a wrong impression of the sense—whatever virtue there is (not ‘there be,’ as Scholef.) &c.

ἀρετή] virtue, in the most general ethical sense: ἔπαινος, praise, not ‘pro eo quod est laudabile,’ as Calv., al., but as Erasm., ‘laus, virtutis comes.’ The disciplinœ, which follows ‘laus’ in the Vulg. &c., is a pure interpolation, and beside the meaning: see various readings.

ταῦτα—viz., all the foregoing—the ἀληθῆ &c.,—the ἀρετή, and the ἔπαινοςthese things meditate: let them be your νοήματα.

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Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

8, 9.] Summary exhortation to Christian virtues not yet specified.

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George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, &c. Here the apostle enumerates general precepts of morality, which they ought to practise. --- Whatsoever things are true. In words, in promises, in lawful oaths, &c. he commands rectitude of mind and sincerity of heart. --- Whatsoever things are modest. By these words he prescribes gravity in manners, modesty in dress, and decency in conversation. --- Whatsoever things are just. That is, in dealing with others, in buying or selling, in trade or business, to be fair and honest. Whatsoever things are holy. By these words may be understood, that those who are in a religious state professed, or in holy orders, should lead a life of sanctity and chastity, according to the vows they make; but these words being applied to those in the world, indicate the virtuous life they are bound by the divine commandments to follow. --- Whatsoever things are amiable. That is to practise those good offices in society that procure us the esteem and good will of our neighbours. --- Whatsoever things are of good repute. That is, that by our conduct and behaviour we should edify our neighbours, and give them good example by our actions. --- If there be any virtue, if there be any praise of discipline: that those in error, by seeing the morality and good discipline of the true religion, may be converted. And finally, the apostle commands not only the Philippians, but all Christians, to think on these things: that is, to make it their study and concern, that the peace of God might be with them. (Challoner)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Philippians 4:8 f. A summary closing summons to a Christian mode of thought and (Philippians 4:9) action, compressing everything closely and succinctly into a few pregnant words, introduced by τὸ λοιπόν, with which Paul had already, at Philippians 3:1, wished to pass on to the conclusion. See on Philippians 3:1. This τὸ λοιπόν is not, however, resumptive (Matthies, Ewald, following the old expositors), or concluding the exhortation begun in Philippians 3:1 (Hofmann), for in that passage it introduced quite a different summons; but, without any reference to Philippians 3:1, it conveys the transition of thought: “what over and above all the foregoing I have to urge upon you in general still is: everything that,” etc. According to de Wette, it is intended to bring out what remained for man to do, in addition to that which God does, Philippians 4:7. But in that case there must have been expressed, at least by ὑμεῖς before ἀδελφοί or in some other way, an antithetic statement of that which had to be done on the part of man.

ὅσα] nothing being excepted, expressed asyndetically six times with the emphasis of an earnest ἐπιμονή. Comp. Philippians 2:1, Philippians 3:2; Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 341 [E. T. 398].

ἀληθῆ] The thoroughly ethical contents of the whole summons requires us to understand, not theoretical truth (van Hengel), but that which is morally true; that is, that which is in harmony with the objective standard of morality contained in the gospel. Chrysostom: ἀρετή· ψεῦδος δὲ κακία. Oecumenius: ἀληθὴ δέ φησι τὰ ἐνάρετα. Comp. also Theophylact. See 1 John 1:6; John 3:21; Ephesians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 5:8. To limit it to truth in speaking (Theodoret, Bengel) is in itself arbitrary, and not in keeping with the general character of the predicates which follow, in accordance with which we must not even understand specially unfeigned sincerity (Erasmus, Grotius, Estius, and others; comp. Ephesians 4:21; Plat. Phil. p. 59 C: τὸ ἀληθὲς καὶ δὴ λέγομεν εἰλικρινές), though this essentially belongs to the morally true.

σεμνά] worthy of honour, for it is in accordance with God. Comp. 1 Timothy 2:2 : εὐσεβείᾳ καὶ σεμνότητι. Plat. Soph. p. 249 A: σεμνὸν καὶ ἅγιον νοῦν. Xen. Oec. vi. 14: τὸ σεμνὸν ὄνομα τὸ καλόν τε κἀγαθόν. Dem. 385. 11; Herodian, i. 2. 6; Ael. V. H. ii. 13, viii. 36; Polyb. ix. 36. 6, xv. 22. 1, xxii. 6. 10.

δίκαια] upright, as it ought to be; not to be limited to the relations “erga alios” (Bengel, Heumann, and others), so that justice in the narrower sense would be meant (so Calvin: “ne quem laedamus, ne quem fraudemus;” Estius, Grotius, Calovius, and others). Comp., on the contrary, Theogn. 147: ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ συλλήβδην πᾶσʼ ἀρετή ἐστι.

ἁγνά] pure, unstained, not: chaste in the narrower sense of the word (2 Corinthians 11:2; Dem. 1371. 22; Plut. Mor. p. 268 E, 438 C, et al.), as Grotius, Calovius, Estius, Heumann, and others would explain it. Calvin well says: “castimoniam denotat in omnibus vitae partibus.” Comp. 2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Corinthians 7:11; 1 Timothy 5:22; James 3:17; 1 Peter 3:2; 1 John 3:3; often so used in Greek authors. Comp. Menand. in Clem. Strom, vii. p. 844: πᾶς ἁγνός ἐστιν μηδὲν ἑαυτῷ κακὸν συνιδών.

προσφιλῆ] dear, that which is loved. This is just once more Christian morality, which, in its whole nature as the ethical καλόν, is worthy of love;(184) Plat. Rep. p. 444 E Soph. El. 972: φιλεῖ γὰρ πρὸς τὰ χρηστὰ πᾶς ὁρᾶν. “Nihil est amabilius virtute, nihil quod magis alliciat ad diligendum, Cic. Lael. 28. Comp. ad Famil. ix. 14; Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 33. The opposite is the αἰσχρόν, which deserves hate (Romans 7:15). Chrysostom suggests the supplying τοῖς πιστοῖς κ. τῷ θεῷ; Theodoret only τῷ θεῷ. Others, as Calovius, Estius, Heinrichs, and many: “amabilia hominibus” But there is no necessity for any such supplement. The word does not occur elsewhere in the N. T., although frequently in classical authors, and at Sirach 4:8; Sirach 20:13. Others understand kindliness, benevolence, friendliness, and the like. So Grotius; comp. Erasmus, Paraphr.: “quaecumque ad alendam concordiam accommoda.” Linguistically faultless (Ecclus. l.c.; Herod, i. 125; Thuc. vii. 86; Polyb. x. 5. 6), but not in keeping with the context, which does not adduce any special virtues.

εὔφημα] not occurring elsewhere either in the N. T., or in the LXX., or Apocrypha; it does not mean: “quaecumque bonam famam conciliant” (Erasmus; comp. Calvin, Grotius, Cornelius a Lapide, Estius, Heinrichs, and others, also Rheinwald); but: (Luther), which has an auspicious (faustum) sound, i.e. that which, when it is named, sounds significant of happiness, as, for instance, brave, honest, honourable, etc. The opposite would be: δύσφημα. Comp. Soph. Aj. 362; Eur. Iph. T. 687: εὔφημα φώνει. Plat. Leg. vii. p. 801 A: τὸ τῆς ᾠδῆς γένος εὔφημον ἡμῖν. Aesch. Suppl. 694, Agam. 1168; Polyb. xxxi. 14. 4; Lucian, Prom. 3. Storr, who is followed by Flatt, renders it: “sermones, qui bene aliis precantur.” So used in later Greek authors (also Symmachus, Psalms 62:6); but this meaning is here too special.

εἴ τις κ. τ. λ.] comprehending all the points mentioned: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise; not if there be yet another, etc. (de Wette).

ἀρετή used by Paul here only, and in the rest of the N. T. only in 1 Peter 2:9, 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:5,(185) in the ethical sense: moral aptitude in disposition and action (the opposite to it, κακία: Plat. Rep. 444 D, 445 C, 1, p. 348 C). Comp. from the Apocrypha, Wisdom of Solomon 4:1; Wisdom of Solomon 5:13, and frequent instances of its use in the books of Macc.

ἔπαινος] not: res laudabilis (Calvin, Grotius, Estius, Flatt, Matthies, van Hengel, and many others; comp. Weiss), but praise (Erasmus: “laus virtutis comes”), which the reader could not understand in the apostle’s sense otherwise than of a laudatory judgment actually corresponding to the moral value of the object. Thus, for instance, Paul’s commendation of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is an ἔπαινος; or when Christ pronounces a blessing on the humble, the peacemakers, the merciful, etc., or the like. “Vera laus uni virtuti debetur,” Cic. de orat. ii. 84. 342; virtue is καθʼ αὑτὴν ἐπαινετή, Plat. Def. p. 411 C. Mistaken, therefore, were such additions as ἐπιστήμης (D* E* F G) or disciplinae (Vulg., It., Ambrosiaster, Pelagius).

ταῦτα λογίζεσθε] consider these things, take them to heart, in order, (see Philippians 4:9) to determine your conduct accordingly. “Meditatio praecedit, deinde sequitur opus,” Calvin. On λογίζεσθαι, comp. Psalms 52:2; Jeremiah 26:3; Nahum 1:9; Psalms 35:4; Psalms 36:4; 3 Maccabees 4:4; Soph. O. R. 461; Herod, viii. 53; Dem. 63, 12; Sturz, Lex. Xen. III. p. 42; the opposite: θνητὰ λογίζεσθαι, Anthol. Pal. xi. 56. 3.

Philippians 4:9. The Christian morality, which Paul in Philippians 4:8 has commended to his readers by a series of predicates, he now again urges upon them in special reference to their relation to himself, their teacher and example, as that which they had also learned, etc. The first καί is therefore also, prefixing to the subsequent ταῦτα πράσσετε an element corresponding to this requirement, and imposing an obligation to its fulfilment. “Whatsoever also has been the object and purport of your instruction, etc., that do.” To take the four times repeated καί as a double as well … as also (Hofmann and others), would yield an inappropriate formal scheme of separation. καί in the last three cases is the simple and, but so that the whole is to be looked upon as bipartite: “Duo priora verba ad doctrinam pertinent, reliqua duo ad exemplum” (Estius).

] not ὅσα again; for no further categories of morality are to be given, but what they are bound to do generally is to be described under the point of view of what is known to the readers, as that which they also have learned, etc.

παρελάβετε] have accepted. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:1; John 1:11; Polyb. xxxiii. 16. 9. The interpretation: “have received” (Vulgate, Erasmus, Luther, Beza, and most expositors, including Rheinwald, Rilliet, Hoelemann, de Wette, Weiss, Hofmann), which makes it denote the instruction communicated (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 11:23; Galatians 1:9; Galatians 1:12; Colossians 2:6; comp. Plat. Theaet. p. 198 B: παραλαμβάνοντα δὲ μανθάνειν), would yield a twofold designation for the one element,(186) and on the other hand would omit the point of the assensus, which is so important as a motive; moreover, from a logical point of view, we should necessarily expect to find the position of the two words reversed (comp. Galatians 1:12).

ἠκούσατε] does not refer to the proper preaching and teaching of the apostle (Erasmus, Calvin, Elsner, Rheinwald, Matthies), which is already fully embraced in the two previous points; nor does it denote: “audistis de me absente” (Estius and others, including Hoelemann, Rilliet, Hofmann), for all the other points refer to the time of the apostle’s presence, and consequently not merely the “de me,” but also the “absente” would be purely imported. No, by the words ἠκούσατε and εἴδετε, to both of which ἐν ἐμοί belongs, he represents to his readers his own example of Christian morality, which he had given them when he was present, in its two portions, in so far as they had perceived it in him ( ἐν ἑμοί, comp. Philippians 1:30) partly by hearing, in his whole oral behaviour and intercourse with them, partly by seeing, in his manner of action among them; or, in other words, his example both in word and deed.

ταῦτα πράσσετε] these things do, is not related to ταῦτα λογίζεσθε, Philippians 4:8, as excluding it, in such a way that for what is said in Philippians 4:8 the λογίζεσθαι merely would be required, and for what is indicated in Philippians 4:9 the πράσσειν; on the contrary, the two operations, which in substance belong jointly to the contents of both verses, are formally separated in accordance with the mode of expression of the parallelism. Comp. on Philippians 2:8 and Romans 10:10.

καὶ θεός κ. τ. λ.] in substance the same promise as was given in Philippians 4:7. God, who works peace (that holy peace of soul, Philippians 4:7), will be with you, whereby is meant the help given through the Holy Spirit; and His special agency, which Paul here has in view, is unmistakeably indicated by the very predicate τῆς εἰρήνης.


It is to be noticed that the predicates in Philippians 4:8, ἀληθῆεὔφημα, do not denote different individual virtues, but that each represents the Christian moral character generally, so that in reality the same thing is described, but according to the various aspects which commended it. Comp. Diog. Laert. ii. 106: ἒν τὸ ἀγαθὸν πολλοῖς ὀνόμασι καλούμενον. Cic. de fin. iii. 4. 14: “una virtus unum, istud, quod honestum appellas, rectum, laudabile, decorum.” That it is Christian morality which Paul has in view, is clearly evident from Philippians 4:9 and from the whole preceding context. Hence the passage cannot avail for placing the morality of the moral law of nature (Romans 2:14 f.) on an equality with the gospel field of duty, which has its specific definition and consecration—as also, for the reconciled whom it embraces, the assurance of the divine keeping (Philippians 4:7; Philippians 4:9)—in the revealed word (Philippians 4:9), and in the enlightening and ethically transforming power of the Spirit (comp. Romans 12:2).

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

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).

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Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 2013.

Hamilton Smith's Writings

Philippians 4.

Christ our Power.

In the former chapters Christ has been presented as our life, our pattern, and our object in glory: our life to govern our path through this world, our pattern to characterize our walk, and our object in glory to give energy in pressing on. In this closing chapter, Christ is presented as our power to make us superior to all the circumstances of this present life. The Christian is viewed in the Epistle as passing through an adverse world, opposed by a vigilant and unscrupulous enemy ever ready to use every means to turn the pilgrim from the heavenly path.

In his path, as set before us in this chapter, he finds the enemy against him; dissensions within the Christian circle; special trials peculiar to the Christian as such; the ordinary cares of life common to all; the evil and unlovely things of a world without God, and the adverse or prosperous circumstances of life. It will not, indeed, be found that all these things are specifically mentioned, but they are involved by the exhortations.

Furthermore, we have very blessedly set before us the One who alone can lift us above every trial and keep our feet in the heavenly path. Christ is our unfailing resource. His hand of power can alone enable us to walk in superiority to the dangers and snares of an adverse world, even as His mighty power enabled Peter to walk upon the water. Again and again the apostle delights to keep the Lord before us. He says," Stand fast in the Lord," "be of the same mind in the Lord," Rejoice in the Lord alway." Again he says, "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly," and, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

1. The Opposition of the Enemy (Verse1).

The chapter opens with the exhortation, "Stand fast in the Lord." This supposes all the power of the enemy arrayed against us, and that the Christian profession no longer walks at the height of the Christian calling. With the devil opposing, true saints giving up the heavenly calling, and mere professors denying the Cross of Christ, what hope is there that any will remain true to Christ, be preserved from giving up the heavenly path, and drifting into an easy-going and lifeless profession? Our one hope, our unfailing resource, is Christ. We cannot "stand fast" in our own strength. We cannot stand fast in our brethren. They, like ourselves, are weak and failing. We can "stand fast in the Lord." He will never fail us; and in Him we shall find strength to stand against the enemy and all his wiles.

2. The Dissensions of Believers (Verses2, 3).

We have not only to meet the unceasing hostility of the enemy, but the ever present dissensions amongst the people of God. Even in the bright Philippian assembly the spirit of dissension was at work. Two sisters were not of the same mind. Nothing is more distressing, disheartening and wearying to the spirit, than the constant dissensions amongst the Lord"s people. How often have such dissensions given the enemy an occasion, which he has not been slow to use, to turn aside a weak believer from the separate path of the heavenly calling, to settle down in some easy-going religious system of men"s devising!

Again, however, our true resource in the presence of our dissensions is the Lord. Why should we turn aside from the heavenly path, when difficulties rise, if we have the Lord to whom we can turn? Our differences will never be settled by mere discussion, or by way of compromise, or even by seeking to arrive at a common judgment, which might indeed be "one mind" and yet only our own mind. The only way to end dissension is for those who differ to turn to the Lord, seeking His mind. This, however, supposes the judgment of the flesh, the refusal of self-will, and subjection to the authority of the Lord. Thus only shall we arrive at the same mind in the Lord.

3. The Special Trials of Believers (Verses4, 5).

There are special trials that are peculiar to the believer as such. There are sufferings for Christ"s sake, and sorrow of heart over the condition of the Christian profession. Paul, when writing this Epistle, was in prison for Christ"s sake. He was sorrowing over those who were turning aside to their own things, and weeping over others whose low walk made them enemies of the cross of Christ.

In the presence of these special sorrows we are exhorted to "Rejoice in the Lord alway." Thus only shall we be sustained whether the days be dark or bright. We cannot always rejoice in our circumstances or in the saints, we can always rejoice in the Lord. Others change, others pass away; He remains, and He is the same.

Paul had known the Lord when a free Prayer of Manasseh, and he had proved the Lord when a prisoner, and, from his own experience of the Lord"s sufficiency, he can say, "Rejoice in the Lord alway again I say rejoice."

Moreover, this delight in the Lord delivers from the power of present things. If rejoicing in the Lord, and all the resources in Him; if confident that He is at hand, and that at His coming He will right every wrong; we shall not be over-troubled with the confusions in the world or the professing Church. We shall not be asserting our rights, or vehemently expressing our opinions on this world"s affairs. We can afford to be quiet if the Lord is at hand, and thus be known by all men for gentleness and moderation.

4. The Cares of this Life (Verses6, 7).

Not only are there special trials peculiar to the Christian, but also there are the ordinary trials of life common to mankind. There are the everyday anxieties connected with our homes, our families, our health, our callings, and our circumstances. How are we made superior to these varied cares? It is evident that God would have his children to be free from all worry and anxiety. This, the word clearly tells us, can only be brought about by taking everything to God in prayer. It is not simply the great trials that we are to take to God, but the small worries. The little thing that worries might appear foolish or fanciful to others, nevertheless let us not weary ourselves with reasoning about it in our minds, but by prayer and supplication make it known to God. He knows all about the burden before we go to Him. We cannot tell Him anything that He does not know; but making it known we know that He knows. In result we are relieved from anxiety. It does not follow that we get our request, but we obtain the peace of God to garrison our hearts.

The story of Hannah in the Old Testament affords a striking example of the relief afforded by prayer. Wearied by a trial that made her fret and weep, there came a moment when she "poured out her soul before the Lord," with the result that, though her circumstances were not altered or her prayer answered, she went on her way "in peace," and was "no more sad" ( 1 Samuel 1:6; 1 Samuel 1:7; 1 Samuel 1:15-8).

David, in the day of his great sorrow, could say, "I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me"; with the result that he could add, "I laid me down and slept." His circumstances were not altered, but his heart was relieved by casting his care upon the Lord ( ).

Did not Mary of the eleventh of John learn the blessed effect of casting her sorrow upon the Lord when, having sent a message to the Lord concerning her trial, she was enabled to "sit still" in the house? ( John 2:3; John 2:20).

5. The Defilements of the World (Verses8, 9).

The fallen world through which we are passing is characterized by things that are false, and mean, and wrong; things unholy and unlovely; things that are of evil report, vicious and to be condemned.

There is indeed much that is beautiful in nature, and the natural man is capable of producing and appreciating much that is beautiful in music and art and literature, and yet sets little value on that which is morally beautiful. How can it be otherwise in a world that could see no beauty in the One who is altogether lovely?

The evil of the world is ever present, flaunting itself in public, retailed by the daily press, and broadcasted by wireless. It is gloated over in fiction, depicted in places of entertainment, and exploited for gain.

How then is the Christian to be kept from the defiling influences of such a world? Only by having his mind occupied with things that are true, noble, just, pure and lovely; things that are of good report, virtuous and to be praised. These things find their perfect expression in Christ and in His people in the measure in which Christ is formed in them. Thus, again, Christ is our resource to lift us above the defiling influences of a world without God. The character is formed by what the mind feeds on. Hence the importance of the exhortation, "Think on these things."

The one whose mind is occupied with the things that are morally lovely, the things that Christ delights in, will be ready to do the things that are pleasing to Christ. Hence the "thinking" of verse8 is followed by the "doing" of verse9. Just as the evil thoughts of the heart find their expression in evil ways, so right thinking is followed by right acting. Thinking of things morally beautiful and doing that which is pleasing to God, we shall have, not only the peace of God in our hearts, but the God of peace with us in our walk.

6. The Circumstances of Life (Verses10-13).

In his passage through this world the Christian may be tried through seasons of adversity, or tested by times of prosperity. Either condition has dangers for the believer. In adversity we may be tempted by the devil to lose confidence in God and question His ways or His love. It was thus Job was tested ( ; Job 2:9; Job 2:10). In prosperity we may grow self-confident and forget God. It was so with David ( Psalm 30:6). Moses warns God"s people lest in days of temporal fulness the heart be lifted up and God be forgotten ( Deuteronomy 8:14).

Speaking from his own experience, the apostle instructs us how to escape both snares. Tested in every way he knew how "to be abased" without being cast down and losing confidence in God; and how to "abound" without being lifted up and forgetting God. What was it sustained Paul whether in fulness or hunger, whether abounding or suffering? His answer, in one word, is "Christ." He had experienced the support of Christ in days of need as in days of plenty and he proved that in Christ he had strength for all things.

7. The Need of Others (Verses14-19)

If, like the apostle, we have "learned" and been "instructed" by the support of Christ to be lifted above our circumstances, be they adverse or prosperous, we shall be ready to communicate to others. If overcome by need we shall think only of ourselves; if overcome by prosperity we shall forget God and the people of God. If strengthened by Christ in every circumstance our hearts will go out to others in need. And as with the Philippians, so with ourselves, it is well to communicate in the afflictions of the needy. Such gifts comfort the needy, bear fruit to the giver, and rise up as an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.

Thus in this closing chapter the apostle anticipates the opposition of the enemy, the special trials of the believer, the cares of this life, the defiling influences of the world, circumstances whether adverse or prosperous, and turns us to the Lord as the One who is able to sustain through all and lift us above all, that we may be kept for the glory of our God and our Father (verse20).

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Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". 1832.

The Bible Study New Testament

8. In conclusion. Philippians 4:6shows that the Christian must actively reach out to God to receive God’s peace. Paul’s conclusion further explains this reaching out. Fill your minds. The Christian is constantly faced with choices, and because he is new (2 Corinthians 5:17), he must purposely fill his (or her) mind with those things that are good and deserve praise!!! Most of these are familiar enough to need no further explanation. Noble = of good character, worthy, respectable. Lovely = those things whose grace attracts, things which produce love as a response. Greeks would not view this list of virtues (ethical qualities) as religious, but Paul does – in the context of the last hour situation (Philippians 4:5).




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Chapter Four Christ, The Believer’s Strength

Steadfastness and Unity (Philippians 4:1-3)

Having concluded the long parenthesis of chapter 3, the apostle again exhorted believers to strive for steadfastness and unity. It is evident that there was incipient division in the assembly of believers at Philippi. The Epistle to the Philippians was written in order to deal with this problem, but Paul did not put his finger on the difficulty immediately. The ministry of chapters 1-3 was an attempt to prepare the hearts of the offenders for a final word of exhortation. Then in chapter 4 he called them by name and pleaded with them not to let self-interest hinder the work of the Lord.

With expressions of deepest affection he addressed the assembly as a whole. They were his dearly beloved brethren, for whom he yearned. They would be his “joy and crown” at the judgment seat of Christ. Notice that this expression in Philippians 4:1 is analogous to that of 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20. There, addressing the saints who had been won to Christ through his ministry, he could say, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.”

Paul was saying that when he stands at the judgment seat of Christ as His servant, that which will fill his heart with gladness will be the sight of those for whose eternal blessing he labored on earth. Rutherford beautifully expressed the same thought when, speaking of the town in which he had labored so long, he cried:

Oh, if one soul from Anwoth Meet me at God’s right hand, My heaven will be two heavens, In Immanuel’s land.

At the judgment seat of Christ, he who sows and he who reaps will rejoice together. Each servant will come bringing in his sheaves and, looking up into the face of the Lord, will be able to say, “Behold I and the children which God hath given me” (Hebrews 2:13).

The crown of rejoicing is the soul-winner’s garland composed of those he has won for Christ. (A Christian must always stand in a more precious relationship to the one who was used for his conversion than to any other.) Those the soul-winner has won are his children in the faith, his sons and daughters in Christ Jesus. Their happy progress in the Christian life gladdens his heart and is rich reward for his service on their behalf. On the other hand, their failure-as evidenced by loss of interest in divine things, by dissension, or by resumption of worldly ways-must rend his heart with grief and fill him with a sense of shame.

“Now we live,” wrote Paul in 1 Thessalonians 3:8, “if ye stand fast in the Lord.” A brother-servant, the apostle John, wrote to his converts, “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28). Notice that John said “ that…we…may not be ashamed” (italics added), not they. He was not referring to the shame of converts who failed, but to the shame of those who were instrumental in leading them to Christ.

So Paul earnestly exhorted his beloved Philippians to “stand fast” in the faith. Satan is always trying to hinder the people of God from clinging steadfastly together and presenting a united front to the enemy. It is unfortunate that his efforts to introduce dissension so readily succeed because of the flesh.

In Philippians 4:2, without further delay and with perfect frankness, the apostle spoke directly to the two offenders against unity (whom he had in mind from the beginning of the letter). There is no sternness, no lording it over their consciences; instead there is pleading. As though Christ Himself were beseeching, Paul entreated Euodias and Syntyche. They had been earnest laborers in the gospel, but they had quarreled, so Paul exhorted them to “be of the same mind in the Lord.”

Paul certainly did not mean by that they had to think alike in everything or see all things from the same standpoint. That would have been asking for the impossible. The very possession of mind, which distinguishes men from animals, gives occasion for differences of judgment and so calls for much patience. No two people ever see the same rainbow. The slightest difference of position gives each a view at a different angle. The formation and contour of the eye also affect the view. One person may be able to discern every distinct shade while another person may be colorblind. No amount of argument or persuasion will enable the second person to see what is so clear to the first.

We might even say that no two people have ever read the same Bible. Of course there is not one book from God for one person and a different book for another, but there is a difference in our understanding. We are so influenced by our environment and our education that we are prejudiced without realizing it. Even when we try to be open-minded, we are often misled by our impressions and the limitations of our comprehension. Therefore we need to be patient with each other.

But if what we have been saying is true, how can we be of one mind? Philippians 4:2 makes the answer plain, for Paul beseeched Euodias and Syntyche to “be of the same mind in the Lord” (italics added). If both had the lowly mind of Christ, if both sought to be subject to the Lord even though there were differences of judgment, each would respect the other’s viewpoint and neither would try to control the other’s conscience. Then there would be no reason for dissension.

Unfortunately we do not always have the lowly mind and often we insist on what seems to be an exceedingly important truth when nothing vital is at stake. An equally honest and earnest brother or sister in Christ may fail to see things as we see them. At the judgment seat of Christ, it may be revealed that they, not we, were right-or perhaps that both of us were wrong.

Philippians 4:3 was probably spoken by Paul directly to Epaphroditus, to whom the apostle was, I presume, dictating this letter. Epaphroditus, having fulfilled his mission and having regained strength after his illness, was about to return to Philippi and he was to be the bearer of this Epistle. The apostle entreated him as a true yokefellow to help Euodias and Syntyche reach the unity of mind about which he had been writing.

Paul mentioned that the two women had labored “in the gospel” with him, with Clement, and with others whose names, though not given here, are in the book of life. We are not to understand from Paul’s words that the women had occupied the public platform, taught in the assembly of God’s people, or participated in public testimony, for this would contradict the words of the Holy Ghost given through Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:33-34 and 1 Timothy 2:9-15.

There are many Scriptural ways in which devoted women can serve the Lord “in the gospel.” In oriental as well as occidental lands, the gospel work done by women is of tremendous importance. Godly women may have free access to many places where men cannot go. Laboring “in the gospel” implies a great deal more than simply speaking from a platform. In many instances speaking from a platform may be of lesser value than individual heart-to-heart work.

Epaphroditus evidently caught the note of inspiration in Paul’s personal words to him, and so he included them in the Epistle. We can be thankful to God that these words have come down to us. They give us deeper insight into the working of the spirit of grace in the mind of Paul, and until the church’s history on earth has ended, these words will be valuable to all who seek to serve the Lord.

Joy and Confidence (Philippians 4:4-7)

In Philippians 3:1 Paul wrote, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” Undoubtedly, as far as his own mind was concerned, the apostle was ready to bring his letter to a close. But, as we have already seen, this was not the mind of the Spirit. Like his brother-apostle Jude, Paul was led to exhort the saints to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered” (Jude 1:3).

Now in Philippians 4:4 Paul again referred to that which was so much on his heart: he exhorted the saints to “rejoice in the Lord.” Joy and holiness are inseparable. Holy Christians are able to rejoice even when passing through the deepest afflictions. But believers who through lack of watchfulness have permitted themselves to fall into unholy ways, lose immediately the joy of the Lord, which is the strength of those who walk in communion with Christ.

A second exhortation (see Philippians 4:5) is one we should earnestly heed: “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” Moderation is a most commendable Christian virtue, but the word translated “moderation” has other meanings. The word has been rendered “yieldingness” by some. This translation is excellent and suggests that Paul is urging resilience of character, which many of us sadly lack. Rotherham translated the word as “considerateness” and the Revised Version renders it as “forbearance” or “gentleness.” All these various meanings are summed up, I think, in Matthew Arnold’s rendering. This English critic translated the passage, “Let your sweet reasonableness be manifested to all men.” He pointed out the interesting fact that the original word is unknown in classical Greek; it was his impression that Paul coined the word for the occasion.

Sweet reasonableness is a lovely trait in a Christian. It is the very opposite of that unyielding, harshly dogmatic, self-determined spirit which so often dominates in place of the meekness and gentleness of Christ. “I beseech you, my brethren,” wrote Cromwell to the warring theologians of his day, “remember that it is possible you may be wrong.” We are apt to forget this when we are engaged in discussions about doctrines, methods of service, or church principles.

Sweet reasonableness does not indicate a lack in intensity of conviction or a lack of assurance about the correctness of doctrines, principles, or practices that one believes he has learned from the Word of God. But it does imply a kindly consideration for the judgment of others who may be equally sincere and equally devoted-and possibly even more enlightened. Nothing is ever lost by recognizing this and by remembering that we all know only “in part” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

How apt is the brief sentence that follows the exhortation to sweet reasonableness: “The Lord is at hand.” I take it that the thought here is not exactly that the Lord is coming; rather it is that the Lord is standing by, looking on, hearing every word spoken, taking note of every action. “Closer is He than breathing, / Nearer than hands or feet.” If believers truly realized that He is “at hand,” strife and dissension would quickly cease and the forbearance and grace exhibited in Christ would be seen in His followers.

In Philippians 4:6 a wonderful promise in connection with prayer is based on a third exhortation. Our Lord warned against anxious thoughts, and the Holy Spirit expanded His teaching by saying here, “Be careful [anxious] for nothing.”

But how am I to obey an exhortation like this when troubles are surging around me and my restless mind will not be at peace? I need to talk to someone, but like the psalmist, “I am so agitated, that I cannot speak” (F. W. Grant’s translation of Psalms 77:4). What should I do? To whom should I turn? It is natural to worry and fret in circumstances such as these, even though I tell myself over and over again that nothing is gained by worrying, and my trouble only seems to become exaggerated as I try to carry my own burdens.

The Spirit of God points the way out. He wants me to bring everything-the great things and the little things, the perplexing conditions and the trying circumstances-into the presence of God and leave them there. “By prayer and supplication,” not forgetting thanksgiving for past and present mercies, He wants me to pour out my requests to God. I may feel that I do not know the mind of the Lord in regard to them, but that need not stop me. I am to make known my requests, counting on His wisdom to do for me what is best both for time and for eternity. If I cast my cares on Him and leave everything in His own blessed hands, the peace of God will guard my heart and mind through Christ Jesus. This peace is that which He Himself always enjoys, even though storms and darkness may be round about. It is a peace that passes all understanding.

I cannot obtain this peace for myself. I may tell myself over and over not to fret, but my thoughts, like untamed horses with bits in their teeth, run away with me. Or like an attacking army, worries crowd into the citadel of my mind and threaten to overwhelm me. But God, by the Holy Spirit, has promised to garrison my mind and protect my restless heart so that my thoughts will neither run away with me nor overwhelm me. Every thought will be brought into captivity to the obedience to Christ.

I will enjoy the peace of God, a peace beyond all human comprehension, as I leave my burdens where faith delights to cast every care. I leave them at the feet of Him who, having not withheld His own Son, has now declared that through Him He will freely give me all things. I can rest in this promise because He cannot deny Himself.

Holiness and Peace (Philippians 4:8-9)

Philippians 4:8-9 concludes the apostle’s instructions. All that follows (verses 10-23) is a postscript of much practical value, although not addressed directly to the saints as homiletic teaching.

Throughout the Epistle, Paul presented Christ to his readers in many different aspects. Now in Philippians 4:8-9 the apostle summed his presentation up in a brief exhortation to think on holy things. He thus recognized the Old Testament principle, “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

Thinking of “these things” in an abstract way, many have missed the point Paul was making. The apostle was not just urging us to fill our minds with beautiful sentiments and poetic ideals. It would be exceedingly difficult to think on things true, honest, just, pure, and lovely without focusing on a concrete example. We have an example before us in our Lord Jesus Christ (the perfect man), in whom all these qualities are found. And to a certain degree these qualities are reproduced by the Holy Spirit in all who have been made partakers of the divine nature.

When we link Philippians 4:8-9 with 4:2, we realize that Euodias and Syntyche needed to see what the Spirit had accomplished in each other. If Euodias looked critically on Syntyche and dwelt on what was contrary to the virtues mentioned in verse 8, the breach between them would be widened immeasurably. If Syntyche retorted by exaggerating every defect or shortcoming in Euodias, she would soon become so alienated from her sister in Christ that reconciliation would be almost impossible.

If, on the other hand, Euodias and Syntyche, realized that they both had been redeemed to God by the same precious blood and were indwelt by the same Holy Spirit, they would be determined to think of each other’s virtues, to recognize in each other anything worthy of praise, and to refuse to indulge in unkind criticism. As each magnified the other’s graces and minimized her faults, each would be so attracted to what was of Christ in the other that she would find herself linked in heart to the one from whom she previously had turned coldly away.

Is not this kind of thinking what we all need in our dealings with one another? In every truly converted soul can be found virtues produced by the Spirit of God, evidences of the new nature: things that are honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. If we think on these things instead of dwelling on the failures to which we all are liable, our fellowship will become increasingly precious as the days go by. Even when there is actual cause for blame, we should stop to consider the circumstances that may have led up to that which seems so blameworthy. Then Christian pity and compassion will take the place of criticism and unkind judgment. Criticism cannot restore the erring one; it only drives him further into sin. “To err is human; to forgive divine” (Alexander Pope).

Even the secular world recognizes the folly of judging that which the eye cannot see. A Scottish poet taught us: “We only ken the wrang that’s dune, / We ken na’ what’s resisted.” We may blame a wrongdoer for things that have already deeply troubled his heart and conscience and have already been cleansed away by “the washing of water by the word” as applied by the Lord Jesus Himself (Ephesians 5:26).

Of course it is important that we never permit our minds to feed like carrion vultures on the wicked, filthy, and unholy things of the flesh, as the carnal man naturally does. The carnal mind is still present in believers, and will be until the day our bodies of humiliation are changed and made like Christ’s body of glory. But we are not to allow the carnal mind to dominate us, since the Holy Spirit dwells in us to control us for Christ. There is so much that is honest, so much that is just or righteous, so much that is pure, so much that is lovely and lovable, so much that is of good report, so much that is virtuous and trustworthy, that it would be foolish for us to be occupied with their opposites.

As we meditate on things that are positive and good, we “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), for all the beautiful traits Paul mentioned were fully exemplified in Him. As noted before, they have also been imparted in measure to each of His servants-probably in larger measure to Paul than to anyone else. So without pride but as an example to the flock of Christ, the apostle could add, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do.”

As we walk the Christian path according to the power of the indwelling Spirit, we have the sweet assurance that “the God of peace shall be with you.” These words of assurance connect all the exhortations in Philippians 4:8-9 with the promise of 4:7, where we are told that the peace of God will guard the minds and hearts of all who cast their cares on Him. In 4:9 we learn that the God of peace will walk with those who seek to walk before Him in piety and holiness of mind and practice.

Gratitude and Assurance (Philippians 4:10-23)

In this closing section of the Epistle, Paul thanked the assembly of believers at Philippi for the practical way in which they had demonstrated their fellowship in the gospel. They were not like those who are willing to profit eternally through the gospel ministry, but have very little concern about the temporal welfare of the servants of Christ to whom they owe the knowledge of that truth which has made them free. From the beginning of their Christian lives, the Philippian saints had cared for the needs of the apostle as opportunities arose. They even sent funds to him when he was laboring in Thessalonica, where he and his companions had gone after being released from the Philippian jail.

But years had elapsed since then and Paul had traveled far and passed through many varied experiences. Often he had found it impossible to keep in close touch with the different churches he had been used of God to establish. Consequently it was not strange that at times it seemed as if his dearest friends had forgotten him. But they had not forgotten him. The love was there, but they had lacked opportunity to display it. When the Philippians learned that he was in Rome and that he was a prisoner for the truth’s sake, they hastened to show their fellowship in his sufferings by sending Epaphroditus with a gift of love.

In acknowledging their kindness, Paul took the occasion to glorify God for His care of him even when the churches had forgotten their indebtedness to him. The apostle had known cold neglect, but such indifference had never soured his spirit or led him to complain. Paul noted the coldheartedness, but he did not find fault. He left it all with the Lord and committed his circumstances to Him. Assured that He never forgot and was never an unconcerned spectator of His servant’s sufferings, Paul accepted people’s neglect as a lesson in the school of God. The apostle could say, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11 ).The Lord was his portion, and he could rest in the knowledge of Christ’s unchanging love and care.

Paul had not in a moment learned to be content. Like all disciples in God’s school, he had to advance in the life of faith by learning practically the things he later taught to others. But he had earned his degree, so to speak, and he could now declare, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:12). These are blessed lessons. The soul is never really at rest in the trials and testings of life until these precious secrets have been learned.

John Wesley is reported to have said that he did not know which dishonored God the most: to worry (which really is to doubt His love and care) or to curse and swear. Every saint would shrink from the latter with abhorrence, but many of us have no sense of the wrong we do when we worry. Our attitude should always be to rest in faith on the knowledge that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Those who go forth to serve in entire dependence on the One who has sent them out as His ambassadors, are called on to exemplify the trusting attitude in a very special sense as they minister in Word and doctrine. This leads me to say something about the New Testament principle for the support of those who labor entirely in spiritual things. First let it be noted that there is no such thing in Scripture as putting the servant of God on the low level of a salary basis. In the Bible the only man hired by the year as a “minister” was the apostate Levite who was engaged by Micah of mount Ephraim and later by the Danites to be their father and priest (Judges 17-18). In the legal dispensation Jehovah was the portion of the Levites. They prospered and were cared for according to the measure in which God blessed His people and their hearts responded to His goodness. In the Christian economy we have no special clerical or extra-priestly class to be supported as professional men by their so-called lay brethren. The distinction between clergy and laity is utterly unscriptural; it is part of the Judaizing system that has perverted the truth of the church.

But there are those who are specially gifted as evangelists, pastors, and teachers, and in many instances these believers are called on to separate themselves from secular pursuits in order to devote their time exclusively to spiritual service. In the early church such men “went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles” (3 John 1:7). They depended on the Lord to supply their needs and He cared for them through His own grateful people, who obeyed the injunction in Galatians 6:6: “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.” Inspired by the Spirit, John wrote, “We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth” (3 John 1:8). Such teachers have a claim on the people of God-not because they are official ministers, but because they are engaged in making known the truth. All believers are privileged to share in their service by supporting their work.

Observe carefully, however, that the servant of God is never to look to the saints for his support. He is to look directly to the Lord; he is to make his personal needs known only to Him. The servant of God should not hesitate to contact assemblies of believers to acquaint them with special opportunities for ministry to others as occasions arise. Paul did this frequently and earnestly. But rather than mention his personal needs, the apostle labored with his own hands. He did not feel he was degrading his calling by doing this. Rather, he felt that by laboring with his hands he was able to “provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17) and set an example to any who were inclined to seek an easy path and depend on support from those in better circumstances.

The principle is clear: The servant of Christ is to go forth in absolute dependence on the One who has commissioned him and who makes Himself responsible to meet his needs. At the same time, the people of God are called on to pray about what share they should have in the support of those who are engaged in full time ministry. No ministering brother has the right or authority to demand support from the saints. They, not he, must judge whether he is worthy of support. But if they benefit from his spiritual ministry, he should receive material benefits from them (see 1 Corinthians 9:11). ‘They which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).

If a servant of the Lord finds fault because his support is small, he is showing that his dependence is on man rather than on God. But if the saints are callously indifferent to the temporal needs of one whom they recognize as a God-sent messenger, they show that they are out of touch with Him who has given them the privilege of helping financially in the spread of the truth. Both those who minister and those who are ministered to should seek direction from the Lord about their mutual responsibilities.

Paul had walked in dependence on the Lord for many years. As he looked back over the journey and saw how he had been sustained of God, he knew he could count on Him for the future. He faced the days to come with the assurance that he could do all things through Christ who was his strength. The One who was his life, example, and object was also his unfailing source of supply for every emergency that might arise, even a martyr’s death.

While Paul did not look to man for his supplies, he was truly grateful for those who ministered to him. He did not take for granted the gift of love sent by his dear Philippian children in the faith. He expressed himself in most appreciative terms as he thanked them for their fellowship. In his expression of gratitude he is an example to all of Christ’s servants, some of whom have been neglectful of courtesies that often mean more to the saints than they realize.

Paul did not receive the gift of the Philippians because he desired to profit from their generosity. He received the gift because he saw in it evidence of the working of the Spirit of grace in their souls. The Spirit was working for their blessing as well as his. And so he gladly accepted the gift, seeing in it “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).

The Lord-for whose glory the Philippians ministered to His imprisoned servant-would not allow them to put Him in their debt. Instead He promised to supply all their need “according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). When we have given to our utmost limit, we have only returned a little of His own, and even that He will abundantly repay.

The last three verses of the Epistle give the concluding salutation. Note how “every saint” is again greeted affectionately (Philippians 4:21; compare 1:1); Paul refused to recognize any factions. All the believers who were with Paul joined in the salutation. He particularly mentioned those “of Caesar’s household” who belonged to the imperial guard (4:22). Some of these were evidently new converts, having come to the faith as a result of their contact with Paul in his prison cell.

We close our meditations on this instructive Epistle with a message of grace ringing in our souls. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. A-men” (Philippians 4:23).




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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Philippians 4:8. τὸ) The summing up. In ch. Philippians 3:1, τὸ λοιπὸν concludes the particular admonition to joy; and here τὸ λοιπὸν concludes the general exhortation to every duty.— ὅσα, whatsoever things) in general. “ α, Those things which, Philippians 4:9, specially in regard to Paul.— ἀληθῆἔπαινος, true—praise) Eight nouns, in two rows of four members each, of which the one has regard to duty, the other to the commendation of it. If we compare both rows of nouns with one another, the first noun corresponds to the first, the second to the second, the third to the third, the fourth to the fourth. It is a manifold and elegant Chiasmus, comprehending the duties of children, parents, husbands, and wives, and the other (relative) duties.— ἀληθῆ, true) in words.— σεμνὰ, honest) in action.— δίκαια, just) towards others.— ἁγνὰ, [pure] chaste) in respect to yourselves.— προσφιλῆ, loveable, lovely) προσφιλῆ συναγωγῇ σεαυτὸν ποίει, make thyself a person to be loved by the synagogue, Sirach 4:7.— σοφὸς ἐν λόγῳ ἑαυτὸν προσφιλῆ ποιήσει, the wise man will make himself a person to be loved in what he says, Sirach 20:12 (13).— ὅσα εὔφημα, whatsoever things are of good report) προσφιλῆ, lovely or loveable, face to face: εὔφημα, of good report, is used with respect to the absent: comp. Philippians 1:27.— ἀρετὴ, virtue) Paul uses this word only in this passage. It refers to δίκαια, whatsoever things are just. For every virtue is included in righteousness, ἐν δὲ δικαιοσύνῃ συλλήβδην πᾶσʼ ἀρετή ἐστι.— ἔπαινος, praise) even in those things which belong less to your neighbour than to yourselves.— ταῦτα λογίζεσθε, have respect or regard to these things) This refers to the things that are true, and which have been practised or are now practised even by others, that we may approve, remember, help forward, promote (advance), imitate such things. We should not only do them when they fall in our way, but also take care, beforehand, that they be done. ταῦτα πράσσετε, do these things, follows with Asyndeton, which [the absence of a connecting particle between ταῦτα λογίζεσθε and ταῦτα πράσσετε] denotes that the one kind of good things [viz. those in Philippians 4:8] does not differ from the other [those in Philippians 4:9].

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Joseph Beet's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament


CH. 4:4-9.

Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I will say, rejoice. Let your equity be known to all men. The Lord is near. In nothing be anxious; but in everything, by prayer and by supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all thought, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.

As to the rest, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things honourable, whatever things righteous, whatever things pure, whatever things lovely, whatever things of good report, if there be any excellence and if any praise, take account of these things; what things also ye have learnt and accepted, and heard and seen in me, these things do. And the God of peace will be with you.

A series of exhortations, without grammatical links: cp. Romans 12:9-18.

Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord: as in Philippians 3:1. It takes up, after the interposed matters of §§ 8-10, the thread then suddenly dropped.

Always: the new feature in this verse. Constancy is a distinguishing mark, and a measure, of Christian joy. To rejoice in the Lord always, is to rejoice when all earthly joy is withdrawn; and when the light of earth shines most brightly, even then to find our highest joy in the Master’s smile. A noble example in Habakkuk 3:17-18. All other joy is subject to change. But they whose joy is an outflow of union with a Master in heaven walk in the light of a sun which never sets. And their joy is a safeguard against the perils both of earthly joy and earthly sorrow.

Again I will say: emphatic repetition, revealing the importance, in Paul’s view, of Christian joy. Of such joy, he is himself, as every page of this Epistle testifies, an illustrious example.

Philippians 4:5. Equity: a disposition which does not press to the full the claims of absolute justice; but, tempering these claims by a generous reasonableness, is satisfied sometimes with less than is due. It is discussed at length in bk. v. 10 of the Nic. Ethics of Aristotle, who explains it as being akin to justice but better than justice. It is eminently a Christian virtue: and the disposition which presses our claims to the full extent allowed by justice is eminently non-Christian. Paul bids us so to act that all men may see and know our generous reasonableness. Therefore we must treat all men with equity.

The lord is near: at His second coming. For the Day of Christ was ever in Paul’s thought: Philippians 1:6; Philippians 1:10; Philippians 2:16. And he has just referred to His expected return. Probably had Paul known that long ages would elapse before the return of Christ, he would not have used these words. But it is unsafe to infer from them that he confidently expected to survive His coming. The greatness and the certainty of that event, for which we to-day like Paul centuries ago wait eagerly as the consummation of all our hopes, occupied his entire field of view; and obscured completely the secondary question of time. If Christ be coming, to bring in by His presence the eternal day, then to our thought in all ages the Lord is near.

The nearness of the coming of Christ is a strong dissuasive from the grasping spirit which made needful the foregoing exhortation. They who look for His appearing will not demand, from dying men around them, the last farthing they owe. Cp. 1 Corinthians 7:29; James 5:7.

Philippians 4:6. Anxious: not the forethought which enables us to guard against coming troubles, but the useless and painful care which merely brings the sorrows of to-morrow to spoil the pleasures of to-day. See under Philippians 2:20.

In nothing: absolute prohibition of all anxiety of every kind. Same prohibition from the lips of Christ in Matthew 6:25-34. See under 1 Corinthians 7:32. This anxiety arises from the common delusion that our happiness and well-being depend upon the possession of material good. It injures our body; and, by filling the mind with earthly care, blocks out the elevating influence of heavenly things; and exposes us to the terrible temptation of seeking in forbidden paths relief from present distress. This peremptory command, so difficult to obey, assures us that all anxiety is needless.

But in everything: exact positive counterpart of the foregoing negative exhortation. It is virtually Paul’s remedy for anxiety.

Prayer and supplication: same words together in Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2:1; 1 Timothy 5:5; Psalms 6:10; Daniel 9:21; Daniel 9:23. The word prayer is used only in reference to God, and denotes every kind of verbal approach to God.

Supplication, or petition: earnest request for some special good, whether from God or from man. See Philippians 1:4 Paul bids us go in every difficulty to God in prayer and beg from Him the help we need.

With thanksgiving: same connection in Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Timothy 2:1. Thanks should be an element in our every approach to God, and be associated with every petition. Thus will memory of benefits and answers to prayer already received aid our prayers by stimulating a confident hope of good things to come.

Requests: things asked for. Same word, and the cognate verb twice, in 1 John 5:15.

Made-known to God: i.e. we must put our wants into words, as though He needed to have them made known to Him. Thus God puts Himself by our side as our friend that we may have the relief of pouring into His ears our tale of sorrow. By so doing, we grasp the consolatory truth that God knows our need.

Notice Paul’s remedy for anxiety. In every difficulty we must tell our case to God. We must put it in the form of request for help. This request must be mingled with thanks for the innumerable mercies already received. In the light of these mercies, of God’s promise to answer prayer, and of His loving sympathy, anxiety cannot live.

Philippians 4:7. And the peace of God will guard etc.: blessed result which will follow the use of this remedy. It is not a prayer but a prophecy.

Peace: inward rest arising from absence of disturbing causes within or around us, a happy consciousness of absolute safety. So Romans 1:7; where see note.

Peace of God: not with God as in Romans 5:1. Rather compare John 14:27, My peace I give to you. The words of God distinguish this peace from all other by pointing to its divine source and nature. Cp. righteousness of God in contrast to their own righteousness in Romans 10:3. It is the profound calm of omnipotence which fills the breast of God and which nothing can disturb, which He gives to, and by His presence and power works in, His servants. It shuts out all anxiety, which is always a result of felt helplessness. As the Giver of this peace, He is called in Philippians 4:9 the God of peace.

All thought: literally all mind: same word in Romans 1:28; Romans 7:23; Romans 7:25. It is the mental faculty which looks through outward appearances to the underlying realities. This peace, because divine, goes further than man’s mind can follow or comprehend. It passes the thought not only of those around but of those to whom it is given, who wonder at their own peace in the midst of sorrow or peril and acknowledge it to be a gift and work of God. Same thought and a cognate word in Ephesians 3:20, beyond all things which we ask or think. It is true that whatever comes from God surpasses human thought. But the peace of God is here expressly said to do so because it is found, not only in heaven where we expect it, but amid the anxieties and unrest of earth. And the unexpected contrast between storms around and peace within evokes surprise.

Shall guard: shall keep with military power; either from injury, as here and 1 Peter 1:5, or from escape as in Galatians 3:23; 2 Corinthians 11:32. Since anxiety exposes us to spiritual peril, the peace of God, by excluding anxiety, guards from peril. Breathed into us by infinite power, it is itself almighty: and, filling our hearts, it will guard us on every side from all evil. Just so the Roman garrisons in frontier towns guarded them from attacks of enemies, and enabled the inhabitants to carry on in peace their daily work.

Our hearts: those inmost chambers whence come thoughts and actions. See under Romans 1:21.

Thoughts: the products of mental activity. Same word in 2 Corinthians 11:3, The peace of God will guard the hearts of His people so that sin shall not invade them, and their thoughts so that doubt and fear shall not trouble them.

In Christ Jesus: His divine personality being a bulwark sheltering them from evil. This implies that the peace of God is definitely a Christian grace.

Thus Paul guarantees the effect of the remedy he proposes. He bids us take to God in prayer, with gratitude for past mercies whatever now causes anxiety. And he assures us that if we do so we shall have, instead of anxiety, a peace which is God’s work and gift; and that this peace will be itself a protection guarding our hearts from the entrance of evil and guarding our thoughts from taking a wrong direction. This divine safety is ours in Christ Himself the home and refuge and bulwark of our spiritual life.

Philippians 4:8-9. Concluding exhortations to meditation in Philippians 4:8, to action in Philippians 4:9 a: followed in Philippians 4:9 b by a promise.

As to the rest: same words and sense in Philippians 3:1, introducing words which cover all that Paul has left unsaid.

So many things as; suggests number and variety in each of the following classes. Notice the stately six-fold repetition.

True: words, acts, and disposition corresponding with reality, especially with the eternal realities, with which our thought and conduct must ever be in harmony, as opposed both to falsehood and to error. It includes, but is much wider than, truthfulness. Cp. Ephesians 4:21; Ephesians 5:9; 1 John 1:6.

Honourable: deserving and gaining respect. It suggests the dignity which pertains to conduct worthy of Christ. Only, in N.T., here and 1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Timothy 3:4; 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:2; Titus 2:7.

Righteous: agreeing with the authoritative standard of human conduct; as in Philippians 1:7; Ephesians 6:1.

Pure: unstained by evil of any kind, as in 2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Corinthians 7:11; 1 Peter 3:2; 1 John 3:3.

Lovely: only here in N.T. Sirach iv. 7; xx. 13. It denotes the attractive sweetness of Christian excellence.

Of-good-report: cognate word in 2 Corinthians 6:8 : whatever sounds well when spoken of.

If any etc.: an hypothesis which every one admits to be true, and which if true supports this exhortation. If there be such qualities, as undoubtedly there are, their existence makes them worthy of attention.

Excellence, or virtue: common in classic Greek for excellence of any kind, moral, mental, bodily, or merely material; this looked upon as giving worth to its subject. In N.T., only 1 Peter 2:7; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:5. Possibly the reason of its rarity is that the N.T. writers look upon human excellence, not as inhering in man and giving him worth, but as wrought in him by the indwelling Spirit of God.

Praise: outward verbal recognition of excellence, which is inward and essential. It corresponds with of-good-report. Excellence covers the five preceding details. If there be any intrinsic human excellence, and if it have among men any recognition of its worth.

Take-account-of: reckon them up, so as to estimate and appreciate their worth: same favourite word in Philippians 3:13. Paul bids his readers calculate the worth of various kinds of moral excellence. And, feeling how many and various are its elements, he goes into detail and bids them contemplate actions, words, and dispositions which correspond with reality; and which therefore claim and gain respect; those which agree with the eternal standard of right; and are unstained by pollution; those which possess the charm of moral beauty; and which when mentioned secure for themselves name and fame among men.

Philippians 4:8 is Paul’s commendation of the science of Ethics. Only by careful meditation can we distinguish and appreciate moral worth. This is the real value of Christian biography. It sets before us in a variety of forms the various elements of Christian excellence. And this value is not destroyed, although the worth of a particular memoir is lessened, by occasional overstatement. Even if the portrait be overdrawn, it sets before us a model worthy of imitation.

Philippians 4:9. To the exhortation to ponder the foregoing virtues, Paul now adds an exhortation to practise them; and supports this last by his readers’ previous acceptance of his moral teaching and by his own example. Not only are these virtues worthy of being taken account of but the Philippian Christians have also already learnt them and have accepted them as good.

Learnt: intellectual apprehension.

Accepted: moral approval, as in 1 Corinthians 15:1, etc. Probably these virtues were learnt from the lips of Paul. But it was not needful to say this. From whomsoever learnt, they had been understood and approved.

Heard: not to be joined to the foregoing, to which it would add nothing, but to the words following. ‘Not only have ye learnt and accepted these virtues but ye have also heard and seen them exemplified in me,’ viz. in Paul’s verbal intercourse with them and in the life he had lived before their eyes. Happy they who can speak thus to their pupils. Such can with authority say do these things. Thus by the lessons already learnt and approved, Paul urges his readers to practise the virtues he has just bidden them to ponder.

To the above exhortation, as in Philippians 4:7, Paul adds a promise: and God shall etc. Where God is, there is peace, viz. the peace of God. He is therefore the God of peace. So Romans 15:33; 1 Corinthians 14:33.

With you: as in Romans 15:33. The Giver of peace will ever be with those who keep His commands.

Paul cannot conclude his letter without again and more emphatically bidding his readers to rejoice. And in their joy he bids them, in view of the near approach of the Great Judge, to treat all men not merely with strict justice but with reasonable fairness, He bids them dismiss all anxiety; and, in order so to do, to take to God all causes of anxiety, mingling their prayers with thanks for past mercies, All that now remains is covered by two exhortations and a promise. Paul bids his readers ponder the various forms of moral excellence, But in so saying he remembers that they have already learnt and approved the virtues he bids them ponder. And he reminds them that they have seen these excellences exemplified in himself. He exhorts them to practise what they have learnt and seen; and assures them that in so doing the Author of peace will Himself be their companion.

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Beet, Joseph. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". Joseph Beet's Commentary. 1877-90.

John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians

(Philippians 4:8.) The apostle brings this section to a conclusion by the common formula- τὸ λοιπόν—“in fine.” In a composition like this letter, where compactness is not to be expected, it would be finical to refer this τὸ λοιπόν to that occurring in Philippians 3:1. There it introduces, here it terminates a section. The apostle winds up the sundry counsels contained in the preceding verse. We admit a connection, and therefore deny van Hengel's notion-ad rem alius argumenti transgreditur, ut ostendit formula τὸ λοιπόν. But we cannot wholly acquiesce in De Wette's idea, that the connection is of this kind-verse seventh showing what God does, and verse eighth what remains for man to do. Perhaps the previous verses suggested this summing up to the apostle, which is still in the spirit of the precept, “Rejoice in the Lord,” and they intimate that while there is freedom from solicitude through prayer, there should be a reaching after perfection; and that in order to preserve this peace unbroken within them, they should sedulously cultivate those elements of Christian morality which are next enumerated with singular fervour and succinctness.

The syntax is peculiar. Six ethical terms are employed, and each has ὅσα prefixed, and in token of emphasis the whole is prefaced by ἀδελφοί. The rhythm and repetition are impressive. We do not think, with Wiesinger, that the apostle means to designate the entire compass of Christian morality. We rather think that the virtues referred to are such as not only specially adorn “the doctrine of God our Saviour,” but also such as may have been needed in Philippi. In each case, the apostle does not use abstract terms, but says- “Whatever things,” that is, what things come under the category of each designation—“these things meditate,” the ὅσα giving to each the notion of universality, and of course that of conformity to the verb λογίζεσθε. And first-

ὅσα ἐστὶν ἀληθῆ—“whatsoever things are true.” It is too vague, on the part of OEcumenius, to explain ἀληθῆ by τὰ ἐνάρετα—“the excellent.” The adjective does not signify what is credible in opposition to what is fictitious, or what is substantial in contrast with what is shadowy. Nor should we, with Robinson, Meyer, and De Wette, confine the epithet to the gospel and its truth; nor with Theodoret, Bengel, and Bisping, to language; nor with others, to the absence of dissimulation. We take it to mean generally—“morally truthful,” whether specially referred to and illustrated in the gospel or not. For truth exists independently of the gospel, though the gospel has shed special light on its nature and obligation. They are to think on “the true” in everything of which it can be predicated-both in reference to God and man, the church and the world, themselves and others-the true in its spiritual and secular relations, in thought, speech, and position. See under Ephesians 4:25.

ὅσα σεμνά—“whatsoever things are grave,” or “decorous.” The adjective characterizes persons in 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 3:11, and Titus 2:2, in which places it stands opposed to a double tongue, to intemperance and avarice, to slander and unfaithfulness, and may denote becomingness or gravity of conduct. In classic Greek it has the sense of revered or venerated, from its connection with σέβομαι. Benfey, Wurzellex. i. p. 407. As applied to things, it may denote what in itself commands respect-what is noble or honourable-magnifica, as in Ambrosiaster. The pudica of the Vulgate is too limited. Our translators have used the epithet “honest” in its Latin or old English sense, signifying, but in fuller form, what is now termed “honourable.” Thus, in the Bible of 1551—“and upon those members of the body which we thynke lest honest, put we moste honestie on.” “Goodness,” says Sir William Temple, in his Essay on Government, “in our language, goes rather by the name of honesty.” Or in Ben Jonson—“You have honested my lodgings with your presence.” Richardson's Dictionary, sub voce. To illustrate this restricted sense of the term, one may recall the lines of Burns about the Scottish Muse-

“Her eye, even turned on empty space,

Beamed keen with honour.”

But σεμνά has a wider reach of meaning. We find it associated with such epithets as ἅγιον, μέτριον, καλὸν κἀγαθόν, and μεγαλοπρεπές, and it may point out the things which in dignity and honour, in gravity and nobleness, befit the position, character, and destiny of a believer. It is opposed to what is mean, frivolous, indecorous, and unworthy. Quid verum atque decens curo et rogo, et omnis in hoc sum. Horace, Ep. lib. Philippians 1:1.

ὅσα δίκαια—“whatsoever things are right”-whatsoever things are in accordance with eternal and unchanging rectitude. We would not with many restrict it to equity or justice as springing out of mutual relations. Thus Calvin-ne quem laedamus, ne quem fraudemus, which is only one province of the right. The last epithet appeals more to sentiment, but this to principle. The right does not depend on legislation, but is everlasting and immutable. It is but a fallacious word-worship on the part of Horne Tooke to assert that right is simply what is ordered, rectum-(regitum), but quite in accordance with the theory of Hobbes. Dugald Stewart's Philosophical Essays, Essay 5.2nd ed.; Edin. 1816.

ὅσα ἁγνά—“whatsoever things are pure.” The Vulgate renders sancta, as if the Greek epithet had been ἅγια. Tittmann's Syn. i. p. 22. This term is used specially of chastity or modesty- 2 Corinthians 11:2; Titus 2:5 -and several critics, as Grotius and Estius, take such to be its meaning here. We take it in the broader sense in which it is found in 2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Corinthians 7:11; 1 Timothy 5:22; James 3:17. “Whatever things are pure”-which are neither tainted nor corrupt-free from all debasing elements, clear in nature, transparent in purpose, leaving no blot on the conscience and no stain on the character. In Pindar it is the epithet of Apollo or the Sun- καὶ ἁγνὸν ᾿απόλλωνα, Pyth. 9.112. Chrysostom's distinction between this and the preceding epithet is, τὸ σεμνὸν τῆς ἔξω ἐστὶ δυνάμεως, τὸ δὲ ἁγνὸν τῆς ψυχῆς.

ὅσα προσφιλῆ —“whatsoever things are lovely.” This term occurs only here in the New Testament. It is, however, not uncommon with classical writers, and signifies what is dear to any one, or has in it such a quality as engages affection -lovely as exciting love. Sirach 4:7; Sirach 20:13. The meaning is too much diluted by the Greek expositors and others who follow them in giving the term a relation τοῖς πιστοῖς καὶ τῷ θεῷ. Grotius and Erasmus hold another view, which is not warranted by the context. According to them, it may denote “benignant,” or “kindly disposed.” But special virtues, as Meyer says, are not here enumerated. “Whatsoever things are lovely”-whatever modes of action tend to endear him that does them, to give him with others not simply the approval of their judgment, but to open for him a place in their hearts- whatever things breathe the spirit of that religion which is love, and the doing of which should be homage to Him who is Love—“these things think on.”

ὅσα εὔφημα—“whatsoever things are of good report.” This word, like the former, is found only here in the New Testament, though the noun occurs in 2 Corinthians 6:8. Its composition tells its force—“what is well spoken of.” It had a peculiar meaning in Pagan usage-that which is of good omen, and a similar meaning Meyer would find here -was einen glücklichen Laut hat. But the result is not different in the more ordinary acceptation. Hesychius gives it the meaning of ἐπαινετά. Storr, without ground, prefers another sense, which makes the verb mean bene precari-to express good wishes for others, and he renders the adjective by benedictum. Whatever things on being seen lead all who behold them to exclaim—“Well-done!”-or indicate on the part of the actor such elements of character as are usually admired and well spoken of; deeds that sound well on being named, whether they consist of chivalrous generosity or meek condescension-a great feat or a good one-noble in idea or happy in execution. An action as right is vindicated by the judgment, as good it is approved by the heart, but as indicating generosity or nobleness of soul it is applauded. The apostle subjoins in his earnestness-

εἴ τις ἀρετὴ, καὶ εἴ τις ἔπαινος—“whatever virtue there is, and whatever praise there is.” Some MSS., as D1, E1, F, G, add ἐπιστήμης; Vulgate, disciplinoe. In the phrase εἴ τις there is no expression of doubt, on the one hand; nor, on the other hand, is the meaning that assigned by De Wette, van Hengel, Rheinwald, and others-if there be any other virtue, or any other object of praise, that is, other than those already mentioned, but not formally expressed. The clause is an emphatic and earnest summation. See under Philippians 2:1. The term ἀρετή is only here used by Paul. In the philosophical writings of Greece it signified all virtue, and not any special form of it, as it does in Homer and others. The apostle nowhere else uses it-it had been too much debased and soiled in some of the schools, and ideas were oftentimes attached to it very different from that moral excellence which with him was virtue. It is therefore here employed in its widest and highest sense of moral excellence-virtus, that which becomes a man redeemed by the blood of Christ and tenanted by the Holy Spirit. It is spoken of God in 1 Peter 2:9. From its connection with the Sanscrit vri-to be strong-Latin, vir-vires-virtus; or with ῎αρης- ἄριστος, it seems to signify what best becomes a man-manhood, strength or valour, in early times. Benfey, Wurzellex. i. p. 315. But the signification has been modified by national character and temperament. The warlike Romans placed their virtue in military courage; while their successors, the modern degenerate Italians, often apply it to a knowledge of antiquities or fine arts. The remains of other and nobler times are articles of virtu, and he who has most acquaintance with them is a virtuoso or man of virtue. In our common English, a woman's virtue is simply and alone her chastity, as being first and indispensable; and with our Scottish ancestors virtue was thrift or industry. Amidst such national variations, and the unsettled metaphysical disquisitions as to what forms virtue or what is its basis, it needed that He who created man for Himself should tell him what best became him-what he was made for and what he should aspire to. The noun ἔπαινος is praise in itself, and not res laudabilis, a thing to be praised, though many, including the lexicographers Robinson, Wahl, and Bretschneider, take such a view. It is not therefore anything to be praised, but any praise to be bestowed-laus comes virtutis, as Erasmus writes; or as Cicero-consentiens laus bonorum incorrupta vox bene judicantium de excellente virtute. Meyer gives as an example the thirteenth chapter of 1 Cor. -the praise of charity. And the apostle concludes with the expressive charge-

ταῦτα λογίζεσθε—“these things think upon.” They were to ponder on these things, not as matters of mere speculation, but of highest ethical moment, and of immediate practical utility.

The apostle does not mean to exhibit every element of a perfect character, but only some of its phases. Cicero says, De Fin. 3.4, 14-Quonam modo, inquam, si una virtus, unum istud, quod honestum appellas, rectum, laudabile, decorum -erit enim notius quale sit pluribus notatum vocabulis idem declarantibus. These ethical terms are closely united, nay, they blend together; the true, the decorous, the right, and the pure, are but different aspects or exemplifications of one great principle, leaves on the same stem. The first four terms seem to be gathered together into ἀρετή; the two last- “lovely and of good report”-into ἔπαινος. The true, the becoming, the right, and the pure are elements of virtue or moral excellence in themselves; but when exhibited in the living pursuit and practice of them, they assume the form of the lovely and well-reported, and then they merit and command praise. In still closer connection, the apostle enjoins-

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Eadie, John. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Summary of all his exhortations as to relative duties, whether as children or parents, husbands or wives, friends, neighbors, men in the intercourse of the world, etc.

true — sincere, in words.

honestOld English for “seemly,” namely, in action; literally, grave, dignified.

just — towards others.

pure — “chaste,” in relation to ourselves.

lovely — lovable (compare Mark 10:21; Luke 7:4, Luke 7:5).

of good report — referring to the absent (Phlippians 1:27); as “lovely” refers to what is lovable face to face.

if there be any virtue — “whatever virtue there is” [Alford]. “Virtue,” the standing word in heathen ethics, is found once only in Paul‘s Epistles, and once in Peter‘s (2 Peter 1:5); and this in uses different from those in heathen authors. It is a term rather earthly and human, as compared with the names of the spiritual graces which Christianity imparts; hence the rarity of its occurrence in the New Testament. Piety and true morality are inseparable. Piety is love with its face towards God; morality is love with its face towards man. Despise not anything that is good in itself; only let it keep its due place.

praise — whatever is praiseworthy; not that Christians should make man‘s praise their aim (compare John 12:43); but they should live so as to deserve men‘s praise.

think on — have a continual regard to, so as to “do” these things (Phlippians 4:9) whenever the occasion arises.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Summary of exhortations as to relative duties, whether as children or parents, husbands or wives, friends, neighbours, men in the world, etc.

True - sincere, especially in words.

Honest, [ semna (Greek #4586)] - 'seemly' in bearing and action; grave, dignified.

Just - toward others.

Pure - `chaste' [ hagna (Greek #53)] (1 Timothy 5:22), in relation to ourselves.

Lovely, [ prosphilee (Greek #4375)] - loveable (cf. Mark 10:21; Luke 7:4-5).

Of good report - referring to the absent (Philippians 1:27): "lovely," loveable face to face: attracting love.

If there be any virtue - `whatever virtue there is' (Alford). "Virtue," the standing word in pagan ethics, is found once only in Paul's letters, and thrice in Peter's (1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:5); and this in uses different from pagan authors' excellence. It is a term earthly and human, as compared with the spiritual graces of Christianity: hence, its rarity in the New Testament. Piety and true morality are inseparable. Despise not anything good; only let it keep its due place.

Praise - whatever is praiseworthy; not that man's praise is to be our aim (cf. John 12:43); but we should live so as to deserve it.

Think on, [ logizesthee (Greek #3049)] - have regard to, so as to "do" these things (Philippians 4:9) whenever occasion arises.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary


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.


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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Gray, James. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". The James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. 1897-1910.

Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books

Good-day, friends. As we have been studying the book of Philippians, this book of practical Christian experience, my heart has been filled with the joy of the Lord in the knowledge that Christian experience is nothing less, nothing more than the enjoyment of Christ Himself. And when you are enjoying Christ for Himself then you begin to experience something of what a spirit filled life is; the enjoyment of divine life. This which we can experience now. Some people wait until they can get to heaven, but, my friend, you can have that today—the enjoyment of Christ now.

And in the book of Philippians, chapter4, we've been dealing here with the exhortations of Paul with respect to his people. For example, we've been dealing with the five5 verses where he has exhorted us to stand fast in the Lord. He exhorted us to rejoice in the Lord; to be of the same mind and have the same desires so that the Lord will be magnified. And this in view of the coming of the Savior. Or, if you want to take that for the verse because the Lord is now present.

Our life should show forth something of the tenderness and consideration and love for each other that will glorify the Lord and attract people to our Savior. Remember again that we're talking about a supernatural life. Christianity is a supernatural thing: it is life in Christ. And when you and I are walking in fellowship with Him and seek to encourage each other; be tender and compassionate one toward another. Not fighting and bickering and separating God's people and manifesting bitterness, but rather the joy of manifesting Christ. And the Lord wants to do this through you. I've so often times said, (and I don't mind repeating it) the life of Jesus Christ defies imitation but it can be reproduced by the Spirit of God in and through His people.

Now let's go on in our study in verses6-9:

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing [in nothing be anxious]; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep [guard] your hearts and minds [thoughts] through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest [honorable], whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Let me stop right here; it's a good division. We've had constant joy and we have the place where we have that rejoicing is in Christ. And because the Lord is now present, or because the Lord is at hand, how we ought to live. Now He encourages us in the verse: "Be careful for nothing;"-- Or as has been well said, "In nothing be anxious."

Here we come to a real experience in Christian life. Here you have "be careful, or in nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." My, it's a wonderful thing this. You see, the very fact that you can come with confidence, with boldness into the presence of God and make your prayers, your supplications and your thanksgiving—let them be known unto God.

Sometimes I wonder if we Christians realize the access we have into the presence of God. You see, we worry and we fret because we don't know much about this: "In nothing be anxious." Don't worry.

You know the37th Psalm where the Psalmist says: "Fret not thyself because of evil doers," and so on; my, how we worry and we fret as Christians. It's a dishonor to the Lord. And we're all guilty of it to a more or less degree. And instead of showing forth something of the beautiful, marvelous life in Christ we're "worry warts" as somebody has said. We worry and we fret. I suggest you read that37th Psalm. Don't you fret because the unrighteous seem to prosper.

And he goes on to speak of what you should do about giving yourself over to the Lord. I tell you it's a wonderful thing not to fret. If I may speak from a physical viewpoint, fretting, worrying, affects your body. It affects your thinking; it affects your whole being; it affects your spiritual life. You begin to be occupied with things and with people and with yourself; you become self sympathetic, you begin to worry and worry, and you fret and you fret, and you're a dishonor to the Lord.

Now he says, "Be anxious for nothing." "in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." You know, I think the Lord has this in mind, possibly, in , where the Lord is telling us about this question of requests. Did you ever stop to think of it, when Jesus said, "In that day ye shall ask in My name." That Isaiah, the day when the Spirit of God would indwell His people—that's now.

When you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior and you were brought into right relationship with Him, the Spirit of God took your body and made it His temple. Now in that day, said Jesus, you shall ask Me, you make your requests, in My name—ye shall ask in My name.

And then He made a very, very remarkable statement when He said, "I do not say that I will pray for you, for the Father himself loves you because you love me."

If you take those verses, there are8 times in8 verses. He mentions the Father. In other words, requests are answered because of God's love for us. We come into His presence with our requests because of relationship. Don't you love that verse in :

Romans 8:14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Romans 8:15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit [spirit] of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Romans 8:16. The Spirit itself [himself] beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

This is the relationship of a little boy coming into the presence of his daddy. This is what it is. "Abba, Father." Where a little fellow would say to somebody else, "He's my daddy. He takes care of me." I'm being reverent when I say this. I want you to get this wonderful, close relationship there is between you and God. He's your Father. You have access by the Spirit of God into the very presence of God. You can come with your requests.

You say, "Mr. Mitchell, I'm not good enough to come."

No. No, you're not. Neither am I. Neither is anybody else. But we come in the name of the Lord Jesus.

"What do you mean by that?"

We come in all the merit; in all the beauty and all the righteousness of Christ. This is what Jesus is saying. "You ask in My name. You come as if I Myself were making the request. And My father will meet your request, not because you love Him but because He loves you." Now you think about that. That's why He says here, "Be anxious for nothing." A child is never anxious. Even though the family may be having its problems, the child isn't having its problems. The child goes to daddy or to mommy. It's a relationship.

The child trusts the father and the mother to take care of it; to supply its needs. And the child is not backward to come to father and mother and ask for what the child wants. Now you may not give it to the child because it's not the best thing for the child. But what I'm trying to get to you is the fact of this wonderful relationship, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."

Isn't it a wonderful thing? I'll never forget the day when I, for the first time, saw the marvel of this relationship. Oh, I knew I was saved. In fact I was out preaching the gospel and had the joy of seeing souls saved. But this intimacy; this wonder of wonders that you and I can come in the presence of our Father and cry "Abba." Come with that confidence. And my Father not only hears me but He answers.

But if the request is such that it will dishonor the Lord or bring trouble to you, or heartache to you, then maybe the Lord will not answer your request. I am not saying that He will answer every request, but we can make our requests—every one of them to him—and do it with thanksgiving; do it with praise; to come as a trusting child to a loving father.

What I'm trying to say to you this morning Isaiah, you have such a wonderful relationship to God, you should be of one mind; one heart; to be tender, compassionate, understanding each other; considerate of each other. And now—don't worry; don't fret. "In nothing be anxious; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know unto God. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will (garrison), will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

My, what a passage of scripture. And I'm afraid, sometimes, we take passages failing to realize there are other portions of the Word of God which would open the truth to our hearts. That's why I quoted to you from . There we have the ground for requests. We come in the presence of God in all the righteousness of Christ. Accepted in the Beloved. And the Father meets our requests; He meets our needs. Not because of our much asking; not because of our love for Him, but because of His love for us.

Ah, my friends, when you think of His love for you and for me it breaks you down. And we come as redeemed children of God to a loving Father. We cry, "Abba, Father." Knowing that He's more ready and more willing to meet our needs than we are to have those needs met.

And how glad I am that the Lord doesn't always answer my prayers and meet every one of my requests. He knows what's best for me; He knows what's best for you. And because He loves you, He'll do the right thing, you can be sure of that. He will always do the best thing; the right thing for your good and for His glory.

May you have the joy today of coming into His presence, standing upon your relationship that you are the object of His love.

Good-day, friends. We rejoice in the fact that the Spirit of God has revealed to us the wonderful things concerning the person of our Savior, our relationship to Him and our enjoyment of Him.

Christian experience is the enjoyment of Christ Himself. And in discussing these things, with young people especially, I try to point out—it's just what we know of Christ is what we know of God; and all that we know of God is just what we know of Christ. And Christian life and Christian experience is the enjoyment of Him personally. We talk these days about a victorious life; a delivered life. Different versions—words—of the same truth, but when it's all boiled down it's the enjoyment of Christ; the enjoyment of divine life. And this has been made possible for us by a Savior.

And as we come to the4th chapter of the book of Philippians, we find where he's dealing here with Christian experience and he's talking now in verses6 through9 about our constant peace. He has spoken about standing fast in the Lord; about rejoicing in the Lord; of being tender, one toward another, because the presence of the Lord, or the Lord is at hand. And now in verse6, if I may go back to verses6,7:

Philippians 4:6. Be careful for nothing (in nothing be anxious); but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Philippians 4:7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep (guard) your hearts and minds (thoughts) through Christ Jesus.

We were speaking in our lesson yesterday about not being anxious for anything. Not to worry. Not to fret about things. It's an amazing thing how we would love to hurry God. I'm reminded of that verse in 1 Peter 5:7 : To "cast all your care upon Him." Why? "Because He careth for you." Think of it! You are the object of God's care. The moment you and I accepted the Savior, born of the Spirit of God, we became a member of the family of God. Adopted into His family as His sons and heirs. We became the object of His love and affection.

We needn't go any farther into this except to point out this fact that we try to hurry God too much. We want God to hurry up and do what we want Him to do, and the Lord is never in a hurry; He's always on time. And remember again, please, He will always do the right thing. He may not give you what you asked for. He will give you that which will bring glory to Him and joy and praise and thanksgiving to you.

Now you will notice in verse6—having said "Be careful for nothing..." and about prayer, then He said: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep [guard] your hearts and minds [thoughts] through Christ Jesus." Now here you're dealing with the experimental side of peace. Romans 5:1 "Therefore being justified by faith we have [let us have] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

We are no longer at enmity with Him. Having been declared righteous by faith we're no longer at enmity. There's nothing between the believer and God. We are righteous in His presence. This is true of all believers. This is not experimental; this is because of what Christ did at the cross. In , you remember where we read there that our Lord made peace—that He is our peace, and that He preached peace.

In other words, our Savior who is the foundation of our peace never changes. Hebrews, personally, is our peace. In John 14:27 our Savior could say: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

Here is the gift of peace. In John 16:33, Jesus could say, "In me you shall have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation, but cheer up, I've overcome the world." "—in me you'll have peace..." Now this is true concerning all believers. The foundation for peace has not changed: We have peace with God; we have the gift of peace—He IS our peace; in Him is peace.

But now in this verse He's not talking about that. He's talking about something you experience. If I stop worrying—or if I may put it another way; if I live in constant fellowship with the Savior; if He becomes the object of my affection and my fellowship, I will experience a peace that passeth the understanding of men. This is something that the world knows nothing about.

How often I have heard as a pastor here in Portland of the unsaved people, the neighbor saying, concerning some dear Christian woman, the neighbor possibly, "I don't know how she takes it. I don't know how calm she can keep under such circumstances. She's had such afflictions, she's had so much sorrow; things have come into her life. I wouldn't be able tot take it," they have said. She's quite sweet about it. She has a peace; she has a steadiness; she seems to be so confident through the whole thing.

Yes, my friends, they're seeing the life of Christ demonstrated in the life of a Christian. When you and I get our hearts occupied with Him we experience a peace that passeth all understanding. When all the waters are troubled and when the world is in a chaotic condition and circumstances are hard and sometimes bitter, there can be a peace—a peace that God is working all things out after the counsel of His own will. Peace in the knowledge that He knows and He understands and that He cares.

Sometimes we sing that Song of Solomon, "Does Jesus care when my heart is grieved?" And when my life is full of afflictions and sorrow; does He care?

And the chorus goes something like this:

"Oh, yes, He cares; I know He cares.
His heart is touched with my grief.
When the days are weary and the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares."

And, my friend, I've seen this operate in the lives of God's people. Sometimes, even myself, I've wondered, how can they stand, how can they be so sweet, how can they be so patient, how can they be so loving. Why is it—why is it that they carry along with a peace, with a rest, with a tenderness, with an understanding, that's beyond the comprehension of men. There's only one answer, my friend; the peace of God which passeth all understanding. So guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.

And now in verse8, the next verse, we have another thing—marvelous thing: "Finally brethren, (another one of His "finallys") (complete through verse9). In verse6, the peace of God shall garrison your heart and mind. In verse9, "and the God of peace shall be with you." His presence is with us.

Here you have in verses8,9 the realization of Christ in our very thoughts. In chapter2we have His mind. Here it is experimental. You remember what the prophet said, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." These are true of Paul.

Now look at that8th verse; look at all those things:

. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,

whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Don't think about the lusts, the desires of the flesh; things that dishonor the Lord—think of Him. You know, I'm of the persuasion this is one of the greatest needs today, especially among our young people. You can't help but see in the world in your papers, in your television, in your magazines, and schools, social life—2or3things that seem to obsess the American people, and one of them is sex. Another is money, and the other, of course, is pleasure.

But today one of the most common words used is this question of sex with the result that young people are thinking about these things and the fruitage of it is immorality. Now for Christians, and I plead with you who are Christians who are young people; and you fathers and mothers, set the pace—(repeat virtues). And as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. If a person is thinking about unholy things he's going to do unholy acts. If you're thinking about impure things, you'll be doing impure acts. What is in your heart and your mind; that which occupies your thinking, is going to affect your acting. And God deliver us from some of the garbage that is on our newsstands.

When I think of the things that are portrayed on our newsstands, the lasciviousness, the licentiousness of it all, the suggestive things. And every girl and boy that goes by sees it, and their minds have become fouled with the immorality and the perversions of the day. And I would plead with you to read the word of God. As the dear Psalmist could say, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee."

And it's an amazing thing to me, even in our churches among our own Christian young people, those who profess to know the Savior, the cesspools which are around their feet. And we pray for them. And you set the example: and whatever things are holy and righteous and just and pure, you think on these things. And again I say, what captivates your thought will affect your action. God grant in these days we may have a people of God who will walk Godly in Christ Jesus. And as we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.

Think on these things today, will you? May your heart and mind be occupied with the blessed person of our Savior; hence, your thinking will be right.

Bibliographical Information
Mitchell, John G. D.D. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books".

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Philippians 4:6. Be careful for nothing — let your requests be made known unto God. Not that we are to abandon all care, or become careless, about the things of the present life, for that would be inconsistent with the requirement, to provide things honest in the sight of all men, and for that purpose to be diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. But it becomes christians not to be burdened with inordinate care, or to be over solicitous about any temporal good, so as anxiously to enquire, what shall we eat, what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed; for our heavenly Father knoweth that we have need of these things, and he is able to provide. Matthew 6:31-32. The Lord is my shepherd, said the pious psalmist: I shall not want. If sorrow and trouble come upon us, if threatened with poverty or destitution, let us flee without delay to the mercyseat, and make our requests known unto God, who has appointed this way of relief, that we may feel our dependence upon him, and that we may go to him day by day for our daily bread as children to their father. And what a happy life, free from corroding care and depressing anxiety, having cast all our cares on Him who careth for us, and is able to supply all our need. It is also one of the tests of true religion that we not only pray on special occasions, but on all occasions, and in every thing make our requests known unto God; that we tell him all our wants and all our hearts, even in matters that to others might appear trivial or unimportant.

Philippians 4:7. And the peace of God — shall keep your hearts and minds. This follows as a consequence upon the foregoing exhortation. The way to be kept in perfect peace, is to have our minds stayed upon the Lord, as a building rests upon its foundation. Isaiah 26:3. Then, when troubles come, “our hearts” shall be kept as in a garrison, which no enemy can invade. This peace of God, arising from reconciliation with him and a consciousness of acceptance in his sight, will diffuse a sweet tranquility over all the sorrows of life, and enable the believer to view without dread the approaching hour of death and a judgment to come. And while many errors, as well as troubles, are abroad in the world, it will keep “our minds” free from them, and prevent our being corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:3. He that lives in communion with God will neither be in danger of any fatal error, nor of sinking under the trials of life.


“How condescending is this great apostle in the kind notice he takes, not only of his fellow-labourers in the work of the christian ministry, but even of the women, who, according to the opportunity which God gave them, lent their assistance for the service of the gospel, whatever those assistances were; whether by their prayers, or familiar addresses to their friends, or their kind offices to the bodies of those in distress, or that uniform example by which the several virtues of christianity were recommended, and the christian profession adorned. Let none then object the privacy of their stations, as if that must necessarily cut them off from usefulness, but let them endeavour diligently and humbly to do their utmost, and pray for encreasing wisdom and grace, to guide them in their deliberations and resolves.

It will be very subservient to this happy design, that christians, in whatever stations they are, should be of one mind in the Lord; that they should endeavour to lay aside mutual prejudices, and unite in love, if they cannot perfectly agree in all their sentiments. Then may they rejoice in the Lord; and it is to be urged upon them again and again, that they do so. It is to be urged, not only as a privilege, but a duty. And surely, if we consider what a Saviour he is, and how perfectly accommodated to what our necessities require, and what our hearts could wish, we shall easily enter into the reasonableness of the exhortation.

Let us often represent it to ourselves as a truth equally important and certain, that the Lord is at hand. By his spiritual presence he is ever near us, and the day of his final and visible appearance is continually approaching. Let our hearts be duly influenced by it, and particularly be taught that holy moderation which becomes those who see the season so nearly advancing, when all these things shall be dissolved. And let this abate our anxiety about them. Why should we be solicitous about things which shall so soon be as if they had never been? Let us seek the repose of our minds in prayer. In every thing by humble supplication let us make known our requests to God, and let us mingle thankful acknowledgments for past favours with our addresses to the throne of grace for what we farther need. This will establish the serenity of our souls, so that the peace of God, more sweet and delightful than any who have not experienced it can conceive, will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and make our state secure as well as pleasant. Let us study the beautiful and the venerable, as well as what is true and just in actions, and pursue every thing which shall, as such, approve itself to our consciences, every thing in which there shall be virtue and praise. Let us always in this view endeavour to keep the moral sense uncorrupted, and pray that God would, if I may be allowed the expression, preserve the delicacy of our mind in this respect, that a holy sensibility of soul may warn and alarm us, to guard against every distant appearance of evil. That so cautious of venturing to the utmost boundaries of what may be innocent, we may be more secure than we could otherwise be from the danger of passing over to the confines of guilt, and of wandering from one degree of it to another. And while we exhort others to such a care, let us ourselves endeavour to be like this holy apostle, among the brighter examples of it.

What a noble spirit of generosity and gratitude appears in the apostle. How handsomely does he acknowledge the favour of his friends, still maintaining the dignity of his character, rejoicing in the tokens of their affection to him, chiefly as fruits abounding to their account, and as it would be a sweet savour acceptable to God. And as the incense which they were presenting at the divine altar, would also by its fragrancy delight them, surely they enjoyed what they had of their own, whether it were more or less, with greater satisfaction, when they were imparting something with filial gratitude to their father in Christ, to make his bonds and imprisonments the less grievous.

The apostle freely professes that he received these tokens of their affection with pleasure, but much happier was he in that noble superiority of mind to external circumstances which he so amiably describes. Truly rich and truly great, in knowing how to be content in every circumstance; possessed of the noblest kind of learning, in having learned how to be exalted, and to be abused, to abound or to suffer need. This alsufficiency of which he boasts, is it haughty arrogance? Far from it; he is never humbler than when he speaks of himself in this exalted language. It is in the strength of another that he glories. I am sufficient for all things through Christ which strengthens me. And here the feeblest christian may join issue with him, and say, If Christ will strengthen me, I also am sufficient for all.

His grace let us constantly seek, and endeavour to maintain a continual dependance upon it, praying for ourselves and for each other, that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ may be with us. This grace produced and maintained saints, where of all places upon earth we should least have expected to find them, even the palace of Cæsar, of Nero. Let it encourage us to look to God to supply our spiritual necessities out of the riches of his glory in Christ. And in a cheerful hope that he will do it, let us through him ascribe glory to our God and Father for ever and ever. Amen.”


Philippians 4:1. My joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord. Other combatants fought for garlands which fade in a day, but Paul’s contest was for a crown of righteousness which fadeth not away. Daniel had said before, that those who are wise, and those who turn many to righteousness, should shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever. Paul had turned multitudes of gentiles to the Lord, and his crown was bedecked with a whole galaxy of celestial luminaries. What an argument for perseverance, and steadfastness in the faith. Other robbers steal a person’s money, but backsliders steal away irradiated crowns from the heads of their dejected pastors.

Philippians 4:3. I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel. Erasmus is almost singular in understanding this of Paul’s wife. Eusebius affirms that he was married, but does not say at what period of his life. Others understand it of Epaphroditus, the bishop of Philippi, the genuine yoke-fellow of Paul, and therefore joined with Euodias, Syntyche, and Clement; and it was his business to succour and comfort the deaconesses of the church. But the name Syntyche having a feminine termination, Calmet, after some others, thinks she was a woman in the church of Philippi eminent for piety and good works. If so, she must, like the daughters of Philip, have been a prophetess in the church, a mother in Israel. The inscriptions to the bishops, in Philippians 1:1, does not affect this idea, for Paul’s epistles were provincial, as well as particular, and he refers to the bishops of adjacent towns. True yoke-fellow is therefore a term of courtesy, Epaphroditus having laboured with Paul in the ministry. Women in the east, being separated from the men, as indicated by the court of the women in the temple, matrons were alike essential in the synagogue and in the church of Christ. Romans 16:1.

Whose names are in the book of life. See on Exodus 32:32. Homer says of Ulyses, that his name was in Jupiter’s court. τουνομα εν διου αυλη. Indeed all the heroes claimed divine descent, as is intimated by many of their names. Christ keeps the register of the faithful in the archives of heaven.

Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say rejoice. The believer has indeed cause for joy, both in this world and in that which is to come. He has a God, a Redeemer, a hope laid up in heaven. Why not then, like David, bless the Lord at all times, and call upon him seven times a day. Why not dispose of his cares, and sorrows, and crosses; and being persuaded that all his affairs are in the hands of a heavenly Father, why not sing, though the figtree should not blossom?

Philippians 4:5. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The adjective, επιεικες, is here put for the substantive: let your modesty, meekness, lenity, candour, probity, humanity, be noted and approved of all. Men shrink away from the Nabals of the age.

Philippians 4:8-9. Whatsoever things are honest, pure, lovely. Here the moral glory of the christian character is described, similar to what we find in Psalms 15, 119. and in our Lord’s sermon on the mount. It is the want of this amiable and lovely character that hinders the world from believing in Christ, by giving an unjust and unfavourable view of the gospel. John 17:20-21. Christianity, they say, has done nothing for us — a most grievous sarcasm against the true church. Her charities at this moment are blazing out to distant lands, under every form of active benevolence.

Philippians 4:11-13. I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. This is not a lesson of theory, but of practice; nor is it one that nature teaches, for Paul had to learn it long after his conversion; and he learned it in hunger and affluence, in stripes and jails. At Philippi he sung at midnight in the stocks; he was calm in the tempest at sea, and he saw his bonds the means of converting many in Cæsar’s court. Well then did the Saviour say of outward troubles and calamities, “In patience possess ye your souls.” Christ can strengthen us to do and to suffer all his pleasure.

Philippians 4:15. No church communicated with me — but ye only. Paul had asked nothing for his journey to Jerusalem; but now, being in affliction and bonds, they more than supplied all his lack at Rome. This was an odour of sweet smell to Him, who in return would supply all their need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. As he began so he closes with benedictions, and pours upon them the full effusions of his heart. Nor are we to think lightly of paternal benedictions. The peace of a messenger of the Lord rests upon the good man’s house, and who can estimate the good which that blessing contains. Assuredly, the reading of this epistle would warm every heart, and brighten every countenance. The eye of him that sees the Saviour shall not be dim, nor the ear dull of hearing.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Ver. 8. Whatsoever things are true] This is that little Bible, as the eleventh to the Hebrews is by one fitly called a little Book of Martyrs. In this one verse is comprised that Totum hominis, whole of man, Ecclesiastes 12:13; that Bonum hominis, good of man, Micah 6:8. For if ye do these things here enjoined, ye shall never fall, but go gallantly into heaven, as St Peter hath it, 2 Peter 1:10-11.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

The Peace of God and the God of Peace

Phil 4:6. The Lord is near! Thus we finished the last chapter. This great assurance gives us the courage for now and for the future. So we need not be anxious for anything (Mt 6:25). God knows that we need to be reminded now and again as we are quick to be anxious. We do this because too many times we see the circumstances without including Him. Then our difficulties become greater than God and this is why it goes wrong.

"Be anxious for nothing" means we can hand over everything to Him. You need not carry anything yourself. You can cast all your care upon Him; for He cares for you (1Pet 5:7). Is this not a relief? By saying to be anxious for nothing, not all has been said, because you can let all your requests be known to God. Here there is no limit, nor any restrictions. For God nothing really means nothing. So there is not a thing about which you can worry about. For God everything really means everything, and there is not a thing that you cannot place before Him.

Therefore rise up and tell him straight from the heart in your own words. He invites you to come to Him with "prayer and supplication". Prayer is talking to God about all things imaginable. You can share with Him the most common everyday needs without any formality. To pray with supplication is to pray with urgency or with a strong desire. You do that when you are in trouble. You cry out not once but repeatedly.

Does this also include "thanksgiving"? Yes, because you speak to a God Who knows what is in your heart and you know what He has in His heart for you. You thank Him because you trust Him and know that He hears your prayers and supplications and that He will do something with it. You have been brought into union with the loving and almighty God through His grace and mercy. Can you think of anything greater? Can you imagine that something that happens in the world or in your life could upset Him?

No single event can shake His throne. Always each event will fit well into the fulfillment of His plans. Therefore you can thank Him in advance when you direct your prayers to Him; for you know that He will answer you in His grace, whatever the answer may be. I think you also sometimes thank someone you trust well in advance for a favor you are sure that he would oblige. You say thanks in advance for the attention and reaction. This is the way you are allowed to make all your worries known to God. You do this, of course not because He does not know it. You do this, because it relieves you, and you, free from all your worries, can continue to go your way rejoicing. What a God you have!

Do you always receive what you ask for? No? Thank God also for that. Do you really mean that you always ask only for useful things? It is as in a family. Normally a child dares to ask his father everything but the father does not give whatever the child asks. He gives only what is good and useful. The Father will give you only the good things. That is not the same as pleasant things, things that will make life a bit easier. He gives things that build up your character as a child of God, things that make your life on the earth as a Christian more and more conformed to the Lord Jesus. That is what you want, right?

Phil 4:7. If He does not give you what you ask for, then it has to do with the purpose He has for your life. Therefore He gives something else. He gives you His own peace that will guard your heart and mind. Guard means watch over, hold captive which implies safety and security. Again this is something really very big. That is much better than when He gives what we asked for, after we have whined for a very long time. Then you get what you wanted and possess what you desired. But it will not go well with your soul. You learn that from the history of Israel (Psa 106:15).

When we put our trust in Him we receive His peace. That is why Peter could sleep quietly in the prison while he knew that he would be killed (Acts 12:6). The assurance, that all the power on earth could not do any harm to him unless God allowed it, gave him peace. That goes well for you also. It does not state that our hearts will keep His peace. That is something we cannot do. It is the other way round; it is something that He does. "The peace of God" is as a shield for our hearts and minds so that they are preserved.

All sorts of thoughts that make you worried and anxious can come into your heart and mind. When you have said everything to God you receive His peace and your heart and mind are preserved, that is "in Christ Jesus" indeed. Christ is presented here as a fortress where you are safe and secure. It is a great grace that even our anxieties are used to fill us with this wonderful peace!

The 'peace of God' by the way is something different from the 'peace with God'. The peace with God is something which is the result of faith in the Lord Jesus as the One Who solved the problem of sin by which a sinner is reconciled to God (Rom 5:1). The peace of God is the peace that God has as the One Who is above all circumstances. It is the peace of the Lord Jesus amid the circumstances which He calls "My peace" (Jn 14:27; Col 3:15).

Phil 4:8. If your heart is thus free from worries and the peace of God dwells in it then you can turn towards positive things. Paul puts it as a task. He assigns you to dwell or meditate on things that activate your intellectual capacity and engage yourself consciously with the things he lists here. You should meditate on these things while you are doing your daily work. That means that your thoughts are filled with these things, when you are in school and the teacher or a classmate is being bullied; or when in the workplace someone cracks a dirty joke or some obscene photos are hanging there; or when you are at home and have to clear out your dear children's junk repeatedly.

Meditation on the things listed here cannot happen automatically. Your capacity to meditate on these things in your daily activities depends on what you read, hear and see in your free time. Your thought pattern is formed here. Therefore engage yourself with good things. Paul does not say what things you must not engage yourself with. He does not present this as a kind of law but in a way that builds up. He also does not suggest the power of positive thinking.

Whether or not you are listening to his exhortation will be shown up in your conversation and in your behavior. What you have inside of yourself will shine through. Although there can be difficulties in your life, when mishaps occur, it is still important that you engage yourself with what is good and lovely. Look especially at the Lord Jesus in Whom all these virtues are fully present.

1. "Whatever is true" is in the first place. When you meditate on this, lie has no chance.
2. The second is "whatever is honorable". That speaks of dignity that befits what we are: kings and priests.
3. When you meditate on the third thing, "whatever is right", you will handle according to the rules of what is right, in everything honest.
4. The fourth is "whatever is pure". God had told Israel what animals they should eat (Lev 11). They were clean animals with certain characteristics. What you eat spiritually forms your character. We take up the character of the food that we eat. Let the Lord Jesus be your food (Jn 6:50-56).
5. The fifth is "whatever is lovely", that means what is worthy to be loved. How do you think of your brothers and sisters? Do you see only the bad things or do you think also of the good things they have, which are worthy to be loved? With the Lord Jesus everything is graceful and worthy to be loved.
6. The sixth is "whatever is of good repute". These are things which should be passed on as it is good to hear. There is no room for ill repute or gossip, or slander.
7. The seventh is "if there is any excellence". The issue here is that you have an eye for spiritual courage to fight the good fight of faith. This is applicable both for you as well as for others. You can pull yourself down by holding the view that it is nothing at all and it is all meaningless. Then you become dejected. Remember everything that is done out of love for the Lord Jesus certainly makes sense.
8. The eighth and the last is "if there is anything worthy of praise". It is important to have a spirit of praise, to consider that for which we can praise God. Despite much struggle, all weakness and failure, you have much to thank God for.

Phil 4:9. After the meditation of how to guide our thinking, there are also things to do, the application in the practical Christian life. For that the life of Paul is a practical example. With him there were no contradictions in his way of thinking, speaking and living. He gave not only doctrinal teachings but was involved with his whole being. He does not speak with a high hand, but from experience. If they would follow his example they would have the "God of peace" Himself as their Companion. The peace of God and the God of peace, what would you like to possess more?

Now read Philippians 4:6-9 again.

Reflection: Mention the blessings and exhortations found in these verses.

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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Philippians 4:8". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

Christian progress in all virtues:

v. 8. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, what soever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

v. 9. Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you,

In order that peace and joy may remain within the Christian hearts and within the Christian congregations, it is necessary that Christians avoid all things which might disturb such harmony in the Spirit. Their thoughts must be directed solely to things that are well-pleasing to God. That is evidence of true progress in sanctification, to seek what pleases God and is of benefit to one's neighbor. The apostle enumerates the virtues which the believers must keep in mind, upon which they should think Their minds should be engaged with matters which are true, truthful, truth-speaking, sincere, frank, and open, especially toward God who searches hearts and minds; with things which are honest or honorable, belonging to and fitting true Christian dignity, since the Christians must never forget what they owe to their station as children of God in the world; with matters which are just and right, which agree with all just expectations of men, which are in accord with the Law. The believers should reflect carefully also upon things which are pure, chaste, clean in words and deeds, never become guilty of lascivious allusions or of filthy deeds; upon things which are lovely, well-pleasing, not only omitting all vain and empty conversation, but, above all, offensive garrulity; upon things of good report, which reflect credit upon the Christian religion and do not cause people to place Christian conversation on a level with that of the world. All such things the Christians will choose as the subject of their meditations, to these they will pay attention. In general, all that is excellent and laudable should be the constant object of every Christian's thoughts. In all things, at all times, in all places, the sanctification of the Christians should be evident.

To bring home this admonition, Paul cites his own example: What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, this do; and the God of peace will be with you. Those are the things which he has just enumerated. He has the good conscience that he has walked in these virtues, that he has proved a good example to the Philippians under all conditions, in every way. The daily life and example of a pastor, as a sermon in deeds, is of the greatest importance in the work of the Church. In this manner the relation of the redeemed to God will be upheld. These points are necessary for the preservation of peace and harmony in the Church. The assurance of the presence of God, the God of peace, is given to believers if they follow the words of the apostle.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

              (3). General exhortation to Christian progress

( Philippians 4:8-9)

8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest [honorable] whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if 9 there be any praise, think on these things. Those [The] things which ye have both [also] learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me [these] do: and the God of peace shall be with you.


[The words which follow here may be said to be arranged in a descending scale. The first four describe the character of the actions themselves, the two former, ἀληθῆ, σεμνά, being absolute, the two latter δίκαια, ἁγνά, relative; the fifth and sixth προσφιλῆ, εὔφημα, point to the moral approbation which they conciliate; while the seventh and eighth ἀρετή, ἔπαινος, in which the form of expression is changed (εἴτις for ὅσα), are thrown in as an after-thought that no motive may be omitted (Lightfoot).—H.]—Whatsoever things are true, ὅσα ἐστὶν ἀληθῆ. The ὅσα indicates that all things, without exception, which the category embraces are meant; while ἐστίν implies their actual existence in contrast with the arbitrary supposition of men. Ἀληθῆ is the morally true, in harmony with the objective rule of morality in the gospels. See Ephesians 4:21. It should neither be limited by in sermone (Bengel) nor be taken as merely subjective in the sense of sincerity (Erasmus).—Whatsoever things are honorable (ὅσα σεμνά), designates things of a worthy character corresponding to the essence of the ἀλήθεια ( 1 Timothy 2:2; Titus 2:2). [They are such as men esteem, regard with respect, veneration.—H.]—Whatsoever things are just (ὅσα δίκαια) signifies the things which accord with the law, as in Ephesians 4:24, and should not be limited by erga alios (Bengel).—Whatsoever things are pure (ὅσα ἁγνά) describes the same qualities or acts intrinsically ( 2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Corinthians 7:11; James 3:17; 1 Timothy 5:22; 1 John 3:3; ἁγνῶς 1:17). It is not simply ‘chaste’ (Grotius).—Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report (ὅσα προσφιλῆ, ὅσα εὔφημα) comprises again a two-fold relation; both words have reference to the estimation of men, the first however designating what is valuable and dear to the heart of Prayer of Manasseh, (προσφιλῆ), the second (εὔφημα) what is praised, esteemed among men, in word and deed. The first should not be supplemented by τοῖς πιστοῖς καὶ τῷ θεῷ (Chrysostom), or restricted by τῷ θεῷ (Theodoret), or interpreted as benigna, quæ, gratiosum faciunt hominem (Grotius). The second does not refer to quæ bonam famam conciliant (Erasmus), or to sermones, qui aliis bene precantur (Storr.), which is opposed to the context.—If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, sums up the preceding; εἴ τις ἀρετή refers to the first two pairs, καὶ εἴ τις ἔπαινος to the last pair. The former, ἀρετή, used of God, 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3, here and in 2 Peter 1:5, of men, signifies moral rectitude in disposition and action; the latter (ἔπαινος) the moral judgment of men, hence not res laudabilis (Calvin, et al.); virtue (ἀρετή) calls forth praise (ἔπαινον): this presupposes that.—Thus what is in a Christian sense moral, is described in manifold relations, and the Apostle now says of it:—Think on these things, ταῦτα λογίζεσθε, not the same as φρονεῖτε. The Philippians should choose these things as the subject of their meditation, have them ever in their thoughts.

[Hence it does not signify both (A. V.), but also, i.e., it adds the Apostle’s example and teaching to the claims of the virtues themselves. Lightfoot makes the first καί responsive to the third, and so connects the verbs in pairs.—H.] Ἐμάθετε καὶ παρελάβετε, refer to instruction, the former indicating the act in this process, as that of the Philippians, the latter, as that of Paul. The second intimates that the first could not have taken place without the second. Ἠκούσατε καὶ εἴδετε refer to examples of which the Philippians had knowledge by report or from personal observation, and which καί joins with the instruction (ὲμάθετε). Ἐν ἐμοί belongs to both verbs, for Paul is an example in word as well as act. Therefore καί-καί-καί is not “as well as,” nor ἐμάθετε genus, and the others species (Hölemann), nor does ἠκούσατε refer to preaching (Calvin, et al.).—These do (ταῦτα πράσσετε) is parallel to ταῦτα λογίζεσθε; both together, thinking and doing, are what Paul enjoins.—And the God of peace shall be with you, καὶ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης ἔσται μεθ’ ὑμῶν. The particle connects the result (=‘and Song of Solomon,’) with the injunction. The promise points to Philippians 4:7. He has the peace of God as his protection, who has the God of peace with him and in him.


1.Salvation with all its inward wealth and manifold relations, is a unit. It harmonizes with the standard (ἀληθῆ) immanent in it, whereon depends its dignity, its worth (σεμνά), agrees with the rule made objective in the law (δίκαια), so that it is unspotted (ἁγνά), has its echo in the creature (προσφιλῆ), and in the circles formed by it (εὔφημα).

2. Salvation is obtained through a saving union of doctrine and example.

3. He who rightfully claims salvation in word, has resting upon him still more the duty of bearing witness to it in his life.

[Andrew Fuller:—“The God of peace shall be with you” ( Philippians 4:9). We cannot experience the peace of God, and joy in the Holy Ghost, unless we have the testimony of our own consciences that in simplicity and godly sincerity we have had our conversation in the world.—What is this peace? The Christian, the minister who enjoys a well-grounded persuasion that he possesses the favor of Jesus Christ, whose confidence is in Him who sits at the helm of the universe, who walks with God and has the testimony of a good conscience, possesses the peace of God.—H.]


Starke:—Christians have no need of the teachings of pagan morality, for no virtue can be found, or anything else praiseworthy and glorious, which is not found in God’s word.—Whoever will have the blessings of salvation, must submit to the divine plan of salvation.

Schleiermacher:—In regard to what is honorable, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, there is a true and a false standard, and for this reason the Apostle here places the true at the beginning, that when the following exhortations are presented this fact, which our experience so often discloses, may at once occur to the Christian, and he may be led to examine himself and see whether he also is everywhere seeking for the true.

Heubner:—The Christian should not be one, but many-sided; he should strive after all that is excellent.—The true type of Christian virtue rejects all falsehood.—Klopstock inserts Philippians 4:8 in his ode to the Redeemer at the close of the Messiah.

[Robert Hall:—There are very different virtues. If we would be complete in our Christian profession, we must attend to all the virtues of it;—whatsoever things are true, honest, just, or lovely, as well as those sublimer things which more immediately respect God and Christ, and heaven and eternity. The beauty of the Christian character is not formed so much by the gigantic size of one virtue, as from the harmony and consistency of all. Never, then, let it appear which virtue has been most approved by you, but cultivate every virtue ( Philippians 4:8).—H.]


FN#5 - Philippians 4:4 [This ‘and in the A. V. answers to καί in the common text, which Isaiah, however, unwarranted. For the asyndeton which thus occurs, see Winer’s Gram., p537. See the notes below on ἐρῶ.—H.]

FN#6 - Neander suggests still another, or at least a modified interpretation. The consciousness that “the Lord is nigh,” furnishes a motive for the exercise of forbearance under provocation. His persecuted people walk in the sight of the Lord and dare not give way to passion in the near presence of Him, who endured every wrong with heavenly patience and long-suffering. This consciousness that the Lord is near will also restrain them from wishing to anticipate His justice, to take the work of retribution into their own hands.—H.]

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at Public Domain.
Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

His heart overflowing at the contemplation of such an Object, the apostle in Ch.4 dwells upon the sufficiency of the Lord Jesus to supremely satisfy the soul. If in Ch.3 Christ is his Object in Glory, in this chapter Christ is his Strength for the wilderness pathway; and in contrast to Israel's constant murmuring in the wilderness, he tells us with a full heart, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, to be content." Sweet testimony to the fulness of love and grace in his adorable Saviour!

And toward the Philippians, too, his heart expands: "my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown." This must be the result of all true occupation with Christ. If we thirst for the blessed knowledge of Himself, we spontaneously seek that others, too, might enjoy Him, and the spirit in which we do so will be one of tenderest consideration and entreaty. The Philippians were even then "his joy", and would in Glory be "his crown."

"So stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved." Since he loves them, he can desire no less for them than a firm, steadfast stand "in the Lord," in accordance with the moving truths of Ch.2. It will be noted that the first nine verses of this chapter are mainly devoted to exhorting the saints; and it is appropriate that they are first urged to maintain a single-hearted devotedness to the Lord, that will not waver in the face of trial.

But this is quickly followed by a plea for unity of mind. He addresses two sisters in the Lord, perhaps both of spiritual character, for their names (Euodias - "well met" and Syntyche - "a sweet smell") have good implications. Yet each evidently had a mind of her own, and they were at issue. Beautiful it is to note that the apostle will not take sides, but tenderly beseeches them to "be of the same mind in the Lord." For, to "stand fast in the Lord" does not mean to be disagreeable toward others. Unity may be maintained, and should be, and indeed will be, if we simply seek the Lord's mind instead of our own.

In becoming moral order, helping follows closely with unity; "I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the Gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life." This is evidently addressed to Epaphroditus, the bearer of the epistle. It may well be that Euodias and Syntyche were among the women of whom Paul speaks. But he entreats Epaphroditus in this case to help them, not to reprimand them. Those who have sought by labour to further the work of the Gospel will be the special object of Satan's attacks, and to help them is only right, and particularly spiritually, as the verse doubtless implies. God is not unrighteous, that He should forget their work and labour of love, and the apostle too speaks of it in manifest appreciation, "whose names," he adds, "are in the book of life." Man's books of history and biography had no place for such, but how infinitely more honoured a distinction was theirs!

A fourth characteristic is now strongly urged in verse 4: "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say rejoice." He has said the same before, but it is a matter to be much emphasised. For, blessed as it is to be a help to others, there is real danger of making this the chief occasion of our joy. Many are turned aside by this snare, and we must be diligent to remember that the joy of being useful cannot in any wise substitute for joy in the Lord. Let us seek this with humble consistency, for every other occasion of joy has failure, fluctuation, feebleness in it. He abides the same.

Verse 5 however would remind us that such joy should be tempered by a gentleness or moderation that should be evident to all men. If the joy in the Lord is real - not mere effusion - we shall have a readiness to yield our own rights, a gentle reasonableness that seeks not self-importance or self-assertion, so that some have suggested the word "yieldingness" in place of "moderation." This will be possible in just such measure as we realise that "the Lord is near." It is the blessed experience of "enduring as seeing Him who is invisible;" not exactly the expectation of His coming, but the sweet, present sense of His nearness.

But this again is closely followed by another becoming exhortation; "Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let Your requests be made known unto God." Unbelief would urge that we are endangering our very existence by a gentle spirit that yields what may be our own rights. Should we therefore be anxious about such things? Far from it: "be anxious for nothing." Yet this is an impossibility without prayer. Hence, prayer is our sixth positive responsibility mentioned here. This is the blessed expression of dependence upon the Living God, the only real preservation from distracting care. If we are to be anxious for nothing, it manifestly follows that in everything we should pray. Blessed reassurance for the soul that not the smallest matter that may concern the believer's heart is too trivial for our God and Father. All should be brought candidly and earnestly to Him, where it will be well taken care of. In supplication we see this earnestness that pleads in the presence of God, so beautifully exemplified in our holy Lord in Gethsemane: "being 'g in an agony, He prayed more earnestly" (Luke 22:44).

But along with this we are given a seventh admonition: "with thanksgiving." Here is a most important preservative for our prayers. Even supplication is not to be demanding, but the expression of earnest desire for the will of God. A spirit of thanks. giving will keep us from the doubts and reasonings that are too often present when we are seeking something from God. Has He not met our real needs in the past? And are we not profoundly thankful for this? Thus quiet confidence as to the future is produced in the soul: "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Blessed result of true, lowly communion with God.

This is a very practical and experimental peace. "Peace with God" (Romans 5:1) is manifestly to be distinguished from this, for all the children of God, on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ, have peace with God by faith: it is their eternal possession immediately upon conversion. "The peace of God" rather is that tranquillity of soul that rests in the will of God: it is the same blessed peace seen in its perfection in all the path of the Lord Jesus. And such is a very real guard for the heart and mind, as the passage has been rightly translated, "shall garrison your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Yet this infinitely strong protection and comfort can be enjoyed by the believer only as he acts truly upon the instruction of verse 6: this alone will give the calm, tranquil peace of a mind and heart resting in the blessed will of God. There is no real reason that this should not be the common experience of all saints: alas, that it is not more constantly so!

Verse 8 now supplies the eighth admonition of our chapter, dealing with our very thinking. Is it asking too much that our thoughts should be kept in definite bounds? Surely not. Indeed this is a vital though hidden spring of our actions, and if our thoughts are kept pure, certainly our actions will be also. The real reason for outward failure is our more serious failure in disciplining and controlling our minds.

The mind is an amazing instrument, constantly active, and ever forming itself according to the character of those things which occupy it. Hence we are told to think on [1] "whatsoever things are true." This sets aside all idealistic fancies, books of fiction, and the like. Of what is true there is far more than enough to engage our whole time: how then find time for the empty imaginings of men's minds? Secondly, "whatsoever things are noble." For there are some things true that may not yet be noble, not profitable for the soul. Thirdly, "whatsoever things are just." This speaks of the character of equity or fairness, a most needful addition to truth and nobility. Fourthly, "whatsoever things are pure," that which has no admixture of an inconsistent nature. Fifthly, "whatsoever things are lovely." This adds a character of warmth which may be lacking in the former things, but must not be considered apart from them. Sixthly, "whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise." This seems to be an over-all covering of the verse, a sort of crowning of the commendable characteristics that should occupy our minds. "Think on these things."

Verse 9 now ends these admonitions with "doing" in the 9th place, not in the first, as many would prefer. Yet its place is seriously important: doing must flow from the former things or its character will be sadly deficient. "Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." As in Ch. 3, Paul is decidedly an example here, and the former chapter may well be again considered in connection with this verse. His single-hearted, devoted path of service to God and man is well worth emulating. "If ye know these things, happy are ye, if ye do them."

The Philippians had first learned the practical character of Christianity through Paul's conduct among them: they had received these things as of God: they had seen them in operation: and now that he was gone they had heard that he maintained the same characteristics. His was a living example of his own teachings.

Let them follow him, and they would find the same results as he: "The God of peace shall be with you." God's own presence in living power with them would give His approval of such ways. We might here be reminded that in verse 7 "the peace of God" is the result of dependent, believing prayer: in verse 9 the presence of "the God of peace" is the result of doing the will of God.

The apostle now turns to speak more personally, "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at length your thought for me hath flourished again, though surely ye did think of me, but ye lacked opportunity" (N. Trans). The unfeigned and unselfish joy is beautiful to contemplate. The Philippians had desired before to send some temporal help to the apostle, but lacked opportunity, for their temporal resources were strictly limited. Their deep affection strongly affects the heart of Paul, and he greatly rejoices in the Lord at this willing sacrifice of their substance for the Lord's sake.

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content." It was not his benefiting that so rejoiced his heart, but rather their affection for Christ, which he knew would bear fruit to their account. Wondrous it is to think of Paul's thorough contentment even in a Roman prison. He considered that he needed little indeed. Let us remark however, that this was not his natural character, but that he had "learned" to be content, doubtless through most trying experience and with unfeigned confidence in the Living God. Self-seeking is natural to the human heart: contentment therefore must be learned.

"I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." Let us note his emphasis on the word "how." For it is all too possible to be abased and to take it in a wrong spirit. Not so with the apostle: "how to be abased" implies a cheerful acceptance of God's will in it. On the other hand, "how to abound" is in some respects a more severe test for many of us, for this implies a proper and godly use, according to the will of God, of those things in which He has made us to abound. We must also observe another expression here: "I am instructed." In measure like his Master, his "ear was opened to hear as the learner" (Isaiah 50:4). He was not self-taught in his contentment with whatever circumstances: God had taught him, and the instruction was welcome to his soul.

In all the varied circumstances through which the apostle passed, he recognises the perfect control of God, Who uses them in His own wise way for the benefit of His servant. Without such experience, he could not have been so instructed. May we not therefore shrink from those experiences through which our God would lead us: they are calculated to properly instruct us, as no other means would do.

Moreover, such things are necessary in order to display the superlative strength that is in Christ and working in His dependent servant. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." This was no mere sentiment or high ideal, so far as the apostle was concerned, but a claim abundantly verified in stern experience. His facing of circumstances as they were, bringing Christ into them, and making them a fruitful field of blessing, is a lovely display of the power of Christ over his own soul. All too lightly others may take such words into their lips - for experience does not bear them out - but the apostle speaks as one who has thus proven Christ in very real experience.

Yet, he is unfeignedly grateful for the affection that moved the Philippians in their ministering to his temporal need: "Ye have well done that ye did communicate with my affliction." Moreover, he adds that no other assembly had, at the beginning of the Gospel in those parts, shown the same self-sacrificing love in giving of their substance for his support. But they had twice sent to him in Thessalonica after he had left Macedonia. With them it was no case of "out of sight, out of mind:" they had kept him in their hearts during his absence. This was affecting to his soul, "not" as he assures them, "because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account." Such indeed is the becoming attitude of the servant of Christ, however rare it may sadly be. But shall we not rejoice unfeignedly at the judgment seat of Christ for every commendation and reward which the Lord Jesus is able to bestow upon His saints? Certainly there will be no selfish or jealous motives then: therefore let it not be so now.

With profound thankfulness the apostle assures them, "But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God." It may be remembered that the sweet-savour offerings in Leviticus were those which speak of the blessed value to God of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, that which delighted the heart of God in the devoted, voluntary offering of His Son. Thus, the affectionate offerings of the saints of God are a sweet reminder to His heart of the sacrifice of His Son. How acceptable therefore, and well-pleasing to Him! And how becoming a response to His own great love in the sacrifice of His Son.

Would such a God allow them to suffer need because of their liberality? Far from it! Well had the apostle learned in experience the sufficiency of his God: "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Let it be well understood however, that this giving is the intelligent service of devoted affection for Christ. We are solemnly responsible, not simply to give, but to give as honouring the Lord. This must involve exercise of soul as to when, where, and in what manner to give. We could not rightly expect God to supply our needs if we squandered that which He had entrusted to us.

But the resources of our God are infinite, for who can measure the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus? Nor can His great heart of love suffer any less standard as to supplying the need of His saints. Therefore let His saints consider no lesser standard. The heart filled with Christ cannot but be deeply content.

As to all of this the apostle may well ascribe the glory to "our God and Father, - for ever and ever." If Christ is the satisfying portion and strength of the soul, the glory of the Father is intimately linked with this.

In the closing salutations let us remark once again the pastoral character of the epistle, as the apostle, with expanded heart, writes, "Salute every saint in Christ Jesus." No individual will he ignore. On the other hand, the brethren linked with Paul in his imprisonment join him in sending greetings. And this widens to include "all the saints," and "specially they that are of Caesar's household." Touching indeed this fruit of the grace of God in the soldiers and prison authorities, whose affection for Paul and all saints had been so drawn out through the apostle's faithful witness, by which doubtless they had been converted. How manifestly had his imprisonment "fallen out rather to the furtherance of the Gospel."

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." Thus the benediction, warm and affectionate, ends with the characteristic "all," that is, all the saints of God. Christ is seen to be in every sense the true Centre, and the circumference is complete.

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Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. 1897-1910.

Wells of Living Water Commentary

Tender Words from a Prison Cell

Phlippians 4:1-8


There is, perhaps, no Epistle that so beautifully displays the inner life-throbs of Paul, as does the Epistle to the Philippians.

In this Epistle, Paul's life, like a rose in full bloom, is sending forth its fragrance.

We must think of Paul mid the discomforts and the curtailments of the Roman prison. It is from there that he writes. However, he never complains. He did miss the fellowship of those whom he had loved, and with whom he had labored. Yet, he was willing, in every way, to suffer his bonds if it would add power and blessing to the testimony of the Gospel for which he labored.

As our eyes run through the Epistle we see that Paul had a great yearning to be once more on the road preaching Christ, and he particularly longed to visit Philippi.

In his Letter he did not dwell upon the bitter experiences he had known in the Philippian jail. The one burden of his message seemed to be a call to the saints to joy and rejoice. So far as he was concerned he was full of joy.

In the fourth chapter Paul is coming to several climactic statements. These statements have to do, First, in his concern for others; and, Secondly, in his thought of himself. We wish to note some things in which he breathed out his personal desires and yearnings in his own behalf.

1. Paul rejoiced at their care of him (Phlippians 4:10 ).

There had been a long time since they had been able to help supply his needs, but now, at last, their care of him had flourished again. How deeply Paul appreciated this "grace" we know. It is in Phlippians 4:18, that he said, "I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God."

The Apostle did not write to them, because he desired a gift, but he did write because he felt they had done well in communicating unto him in his affliction.

Let us learn this lesson. He who ministers to us in spiritual things, should be made a partaker of our temporal things.

The Apostle, moreover, impressed upon the Philippians that their gifts to him, were well-pleasing to God. The Lord once said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."

The Apostle Paul added a third thing: He promised that God would reward them for their kindness, and service in his behalf. He said, "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory, by Christ Jesus."

2. Paul knew both how to abound and to be abased (Phlippians 1:12 ).

The gifts from the saints at Philippi were a matter of great joy, but Paul's spirit was happy, whether in want or in plenty. He said, "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Thus, whether he was full, or whether he was hungry; whether he abounded, or whether he suffered need; in either event, he was satisfied. Herein is a great lesson.

Too many of us have joy only when the weather is fair, and the winds are balmy. A little rain, or, a few hours of darkness, steal away our song. This is not as it should be. Habakkuk wrote, "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."

Our Lord sang, as the nightingale sings, in the darkest hour of His night; even at His breaking of bread, and pouring forth of the cup. Even so, let us sing all the time.

"I feel like singing all the time,

My tears are wiped away,

For Jesus is a Friend of mine,

I'll praise Him every day.

While I'm singing, singing, all the time."

I. PAUL AND HIS BRETHREN (Phlippians 4:1 )

There are five things which Paul called the saints of Philippi, in this one short verse.

1. He called them, "My brethren." There was no superior bearing in Paul's life. He felt that One was the master of saints, and that all they were brethren. Paul seemed to get right down among the believers. He lived as they lived; sharing with them, in all things.

We had a letter from our son, while he was in Japan. He said, "A Japanese Christian is entertaining me in his home in the suburbs of Yokohama." Then, he added, "I am living as they live; eating the same food, sitting on the same mats, and sleeping as they sleep."

The preacher or the Christian who assumes superior airs, and walks on stilts is unlike his Lord; and, unlike his Lord's servant, Paul.

2. He called them, "Dearly Beloved." One reason the Apostle could speak to the saints, reproving them for their sin, and urging them on in their work for Christ, was because he loved them so. No man can effectively preach to anyone, unless he loves them, and loves them dearly. Mark this, also, the Christian life is not foreign to those tender manifestations of love. We believe, that the Spirit-filled believer becomes more and more filled with love, and with all of the compassions which are found in Christ Jesus.

3. He called them his "longed for." The Apostle Paul yearned after the saints. He was homesick for them. He desired to see them again. We remember receiving a letter from South America, from a man with whom we had labored years ago. He said: "I have 'saudades' for you." This word "saudades" carries with it the tenderest of solicitations, and the deepest of yearning. We know of no word in the English that approaches it. Paul evidently had "saudades" for the saints.

4. He called them, "My joy." It was to the Thessalonians that Paul wrote that they were his joy, and crown of rejoicing at the presence of the Lord. The supreme joy of Christ, will be His saints who have been redeemed by His Blood. When He sees them the travail of His soul, He will be satisfied.

5. He called them, his "crown." What is the supreme reward of saints? Will it not be those whom they have won for Christ? What more fitting crown could there be than this crown?

"Oh it would every toil repay,

If just one soul would gladly say,

To Jesus, up in Heaven some day,

Dear Lord, he taught my lips to pray."


1. Paul said, "Stand fast in the Lord." This is the closing statement of Phlippians 4:1 .

The Apostle yearned that the saints should be steadfast in the work of the Lord; steadfast against the wiles of the devil. He knew, however, the hopelessness of any fidelity outside of "in the Lord." "He that thinketh he standeth, let him take heed lest he fall."

When Peter said, "Although all shall be offended, yet will not I"; he was boasting in the flesh. He stood fast, only a moment and then he fell. He followed afar, and finally he said, "I know not the Man."

2. Paul said, "Rejoice in the Lord." He knew very well that we could not always rejoice in our environments, in our persecutions, and the like. He knew, however, that in spite of such things we could rejoice in the Lord.

The Lord Jesus, before He went away, said, "That My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." The only joy that abides, is His joy. If we are to "always rejoice," we must rejoice in the Lord, because the fruit of the Spirit is joy.

3. Paul said, "Be of the same mind in the Lord." There was a divergence of opinion between Euodias and Syntyche. They were good women, beyond doubt; and, their names were in the Book of Life. However, they did not love one another as they should. They failed in teamwork.

The Apostle realized how useless it was to lecture them on "The duty of unity," or, to remonstrate with them, against their spirit of schism and division. He merely told them to be of the same mind in the Lord.

The spokes of the wheel become closer to each other as they approach the hub. So, do we find ourselves of one heart, and of one mind, as we come into fellowship with the Lord Jesus.

We remember a Southern pastor-evangelist who received a letter from his home church stating that it was rent asunder with division. We asked him, "What are you going to do?" He replied, "I am going home and start a revival in my own church." He knew that spiritual life, and a closer walk with God, would unite his flock.

"Blest be the tie that binds,

Our hearts in Christian love;

The fellowship of kindred minds

Is like to that above."

III. PAUL'S THREEFOLD CALL (Phlippians 4:5-6 )

1. "Let your moderation be known unto all men." The word "moderation" is translated in one version, "gentleness." In another translation, it is spoken of as "sweetness." The word stands for all of those marks of consideration, and of loving thought, which saints should manifest one toward another. The most beautiful sight, and, withal, the greatest testimony among believers, is the spirit of unity and of brotherly love which pervades the Spirit-filled life.

The Holy Spirit, through Paul, is calling upon the saints to manifest this "moderation" before all men. We need to let our lives and our lips express, the Holy Gospel we possess. We need to give a daily demonstration, by word and deed, of those tender marks of the Christian life, which will give glory to God in the sight of the people.

Wherever there is strife there is every evil work.

2. "Be careful for nothing." The word "careful" carries with it the thought of worry and of fret. The Lord is saying to us, "In nothing be anxious." The Children of Israel, wandering in the wilderness, were given to complainings and to murmurings. It was for this cause that they could not enter into their Canaan.

Wherever there is anxiety, and carefulness, there is a lack of perfect trust. We worry because our faith is weak; and because we are afraid to leave it all with God.

3. "In everything by prayer." Here is the secret of victory. It is prayer and supplication that solves our problems. Instead of fretting over "what we shall eat, or drink"; and, over, "wherewithal shall we be clothed"; we need to pray, and make our requests known unto God.

The Lord knows our needs and He also knows the difficulties of our task. What time we trust, we will not be afraid. What time we pray with thanksgiving", we will not be filled with care.

Paul wrote to the Philippians giving this admonition. It was right that he should do so, for, in Philippi he had practiced what he was now preaching. He had suffered persecution in the jail at Philippi; and as he suffered, he prayed and made supplications, with thanksgiving unto God. We even read that Saul and Silas praised while they prayed, and sang hymns. Let us do likewise.

"Just where you are in the conflict,

There is your place.

Just where you think you are useless

Hide not your face.

God placed you there for a purpose,

Whate'er it be,

Think, He has chosen you for it,

Pray loyally."

IV. THE GREAT INSPIRATION (Phlippians 4:5 , l.c.)

The words before us are brief, but full of meaning. Our expression reads, "The Lord is at hand." This was the basis for all the things which the Holy Spirit is now saying through Paul. Let us see if we can understand the meaning of these striking words.

1. The words suggest an ever-present Christ. The Holy Spirit seems to be saying, "Stand fast in the Lord"; "Be of the same mind in the Lord"; "Rejoice in the Lord"; "Let your moderation be known"; "Be careful for nothing"; because "the Lord is at hand"; that is, "He is near"; "He is watching over you"; "He is observing where you are, and what you are doing." The same thought is contained in this statement of Scripture, "Thou God seest me."

The Lord is at hand, not in a critical sense, but in a compassionate sense. He is watching over us, to aid us. He seems to be saying, "I will hold thee by the right hand"; "Fear not, I will help thee."

2. The words suggest an imminent coming of Christ. The Apostle seems again to be saying, "The Lord is at hand," that is, the Lord's Coming is at hand. The early Church lived, looking for that Blessed Hope and the glorious appearing of our great God, and Saviour Jesus Christ. When Christ went away, with upturned faces, they watched Him disappear. The two shining ones who came down, did not admonish them against "looking"; they merely warned them against gazing sadly, because their Lord was leaving them. Mark the words: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven."

From that hour the saints looked for Christ's Return. They went away from the Mount of Olives, to preach and to pray, to suffer and to sing, under the inspiration of Christ's Second Coming.

What is it lightens all our way?

The harbinger of coming day.

It is the Blessed Hope.

Then go, send forth the blest refrain

That Christ is coming back again,

Proclaim the Blessed Hope!

Let all who mourn, let all who fear

Lift up their heads, the Coming's near:

Oh, blessed is the Hope.


1. We have the promise of peace. This peace is not a peace from God merely; it is the "peace of God." Christ said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you."

Oh, what peace now abides in my soul,

Oh, what rest doth my spirit control!

The "peace of God," is, however, a conditioned peace. It is given to those who follow the injunctions set forth by the preceding verses. When we "stand fast in the Lord"; and, are of "the same mind in the Lord"; and, "Rejoice in the Lord": when we are without carefulness, and with prayer and supplications, we make our requests known unto God, then the peace of God will be ours.

2. We have the promise of peace as a garrison of our hearts and minds. Where is there an army equal to this God-given guard? Nothing that would disturb, or break the quiet of our spirits, can enter the cloisters of the heart and mind which is garrisoned by peace.

Oh, what peace is mine, in the world below,

Oh, what rest of soul. Divine;

For the Lord is near, wheresoe'er I go,

And His joy doth ever shine.

If there is one, today, whose life is filled with sorrow and with sighing; if there is one who dwells in darkened pathways, lone and drear; let me urge him to

Cease thy fear, thy pathway drear;

Christ is standing at thy door to give thee cheer;

He will garrison thy life,

Take away thy tears and strife;

And His peace will keep thy heart, for He is near.

VI. FINALLY, BRETHREN (Phlippians 4:8 )

We close the sermon for today with one of those great expressions, which occur seven times in Paul's Epistles. Here it is "Finally, brethren."

The "finally," for us, is perhaps the best of the seven. It runs, "Finally, brethren, * * think on these things." What are the things that should hold our thoughts?

1. We should think on the things that are true. Why be for ever living in the maze of the false? Why wander in the regions of uncertainties? Why delve into the density of doubts set forth by unprincipled and disordered minds?

Jesus said, "I am the Truth"; why not think on Him? God's Word is forever settled in Heaven; His Word is Truth; why not walk in the Truth?

2. We should think on the things which are honest. Let us beware that we spend not our time weighing the things dishonest, and dishonorable. If we continually wade in the murk and mire of the mud-puddle, we cannot but carry away suggestions and marks of its filth.

"Don't look for the faults, as you go through life;

And, even when you find them

It is better by far to look at a star,

Than the spots in the sun, abiding."

3. We should think on the things which are pure and lovely. We become like those with whom we associate. If we allow our minds to be thinking on the unclean, and the unholy, we will soon become impure. As are the thoughts of the man, so is the man himself. Cultivate meditations on the high and holy; think on God, and life, and light, and love.

4. We should think on the things which are of good report. Do not be talehearers, nor talebearers. Some people are given to magnifying the sins of their compatriots and of minimizing their good qualities.

Why pursue so fatal a course? He who is given to maligning, will find that he is flinging a boomerang.

Think on the things of good report; the things which lift up; the things which bless.

Our verse concludes "If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

"If there be some weaker one,

Give me strength to help him on;

If a blinder soul there be,

Let me guide him nearer Thee.

Clothe with life my weak intent,

Let me be the thing God meant.

Give me thoughts without alloy.

Thoughts that lift and fill with joy,

Until the thoughts both sweet and good,

Are my natural habitude."


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Living Water".

Wells of Living Water Commentary


Phlippians 4:1-9


The spirit of prayer must ever be the spirit of the believer. He who knows the place and power of prayer knows the victory of the Christian life. He who, in prayer, grasps the hand of God, is grasping the power that rules the world. There is a verse in which we are commanded thus: "Take hold of my power, saith the Lord."

We take hold of God's power in the air to run our sailing boats; we take hold of God's power in steam to run our railroad trains; we take hold of His power in electricity to light our homes; we take hold of His power in the waterfall to run our mills. Why should we not take hold of His power in spiritual realms to accomplish the victorious Christian life?

As we open the fourth chapter of Philippians we find the Apostle Paul admonishing the saints at Philippi to stand fast in the Lord. Afterward he tells them to rejoice in the Lord. Then he reminds them that the Lord is at hand. After these words he gives one of the strongest pleas to be found in the Bible for prayer. He says, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." In these terse statements we find first, the prayer of supplication, and then the prayer of thanksgiving or praise. We should be ever careful in our lives to pray with thanksgiving, with the same earnestness that we pray in supplication. Prayer is not merely an avenue through which we can get things out of God, it is a means through which we can convey our praises unto God. It is all right to make our requests known unto God, but it is perhaps far better to make our praises known.

1. In our Scripture prayer is given as the antidote to care. We are told to be careful, or anxious, for nothing, but in everything by prayer, etc. In other words, God seems to be saying, "Cast all your care upon Me, for I care for you." God is telling us not to be anxious under any condition, because God is able to meet whatever exigency may come into our life.

Sometimes difficulties seem to pile up mountain-high, but prayer removes mountains. Sometimes our obstacles seem to be like a stone wall, blocking our progress. However, David said, "By my God have I leaped over a wall."

2. In our Scripture prayer is given as applicable in everything. We read, "In every thing by prayer." This means, of course, the big things, also, the little things. Our God is a God who delights in dealing with the minutia of life. He has told us that the very hairs of our head are numbered. He has said that not a sparrow falls without the knowledge of our Heavenly Father. We need to bring our little things to God, because sometimes they hold a very important place in life. It is the little spark that gives the automobile its power. Some may have despised the day of small things, but he who knows God will want to guard through prayer the small things of life as well as the larger things.

3. Our Scripture gives us the result of prayer. It reads, "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ." Let us observe that Phlippians 4:6 opens with anxiety and care. Phlippians 4:7 opens with peace. We came to God with a burden; we left, and the burden was gone. When we know how to pray we know how to cast our burden upon the Lord. When we know how to pray we have discovered the pathway of peace. The peace which prayer gives is not shortlived and soon flown. It is the peace of God.

Mark you, it is not a peace from God, nor is it a peace with God, but it is the peace of God. If you can imagine the poise of the Almighty, and the quiet confidence which marks Him in His stately steppings, you could imagine something of the result of prayer. When we pray the peace of God which comes to us is described as passing all understanding. We cannot explain why, yet we know 'tis true, that where the moment before, there was trouble and worry, there is now perfect peace. This peace of God will keep our hearts and minds. Our Scripture suggests that the believer's heart and mind will be garrisoned through prayer by the peace of God, in such a way that care and anxiety cannot enter. What wonderful soldiers God has given to guard, or garrison, those who are in Christ Jesus.

I. WHERE SHALL WE PRAY? (1 Timothy 2:8 )

"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." It is wonderful to us to know that God has given us something that works everywhere, under every condition, in every locality.

1. The geographical scope of prayer. We may pray anywhere because we may pray everywhere. Prayer is just as effective when it ascends from the lips of a regenerated heathen as it is when it ascends from the lips of those in the homeland. Prayer works wherever it is employed.

2. The localized scope of prayer. Prayer may be localized to the closet, or the housetop, or the mountain crest. There are some people perhaps who think they can pray only in the house of God, but this is not true, for Christ said, "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and * * shut thy door." We remember that Peter was praying on the housetop when Cornelius came to him. If we can pray anywhere we can pray working in the factory, walking on the busy street, or driving the automobile along the highway.

The reason the Christ emphasizes the closet as a place of prayer, and the reason that He sought the mountain side for Himself for prayer, is because in the quiet of such places prayer can be more centered and undisturbed. However, there are times when it is necessary to pray wherever we are. Peter prayed effectively in a storm at sea, as he almost sank beneath the waves. He cried, "Lord, save me!" Paul prayed in a reeling and rocking ship, as he was swept on by a Mediterranean Euroclydon. Thus, we still teach that we may pray everywhere and anywhere.

3. While prayer should be everywhere, yet there are conditions in our key verse, under which prayer should be offered. It says that men should pray everywhere, "lifting up holy hands without wrath or doubting." If we expect God to answer prayer we must be clean in our hands, that is, in our service. We must be without wrath, that is, we must have a righteous spirit. We also must be without doubting, that is, we must exercise faith. The power of prayer is lost when these do not exist. Men may pray everywhere, but they cannot pray acceptably anywhere if their hands are full of evil, and their minds full of doubt.

II. WHEN SHALL WE PRAY? (1 Thessalonians 5:17 )

We have just heard that we may pray everywhere and anywhere. Now we leave geographical boundaries, and we begin to deal in the realm of time. Are there only special times of the day in. which we may pray? Are there only special crises in life in which we can turn our faces Godward? Let us see.

1. We may pray in the morning. In Psalms 5:3 we read, "My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up." The beauty of morning devotions perhaps centers in the freshness of the mind at that hour. We are not coming to God weary and worn. Sleep has invigorated our being.

Another beauty of morning prayer is the fact that then we face the needs of the day, of service. Opportunity is knocking at the door. Obligations are awaiting fulfillment; difficulties are apt to be met; plans are about to be carried out. In all of these things we need Divine help. There are certain flowers which lift their faces to the sun. That is what we should do; we should be sunflowers, or better still, morning-glories. As soon as we awake we should turn our faces to God for help during the day.

2. We may pray thrice a day. David said, "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud." It is wonderful to pray in the morning, but at noon there is time to relax; we halt in the day's travail to eat our noon meal in order to strengthen the body. Why not spend a few moments in strengthening the soul?

3. We may pray at night. In Luke 6:12 we read how the Lord Jesus prayed the whole night through. Night stands for darkness, and certainly when the life is dark, and we cannot see, we need to pray.

4. We may pray always. In Luke 18:1 we read that men ought always to pray and not to faint. When we cease praying, we faint.

5. We may pray without ceasing. This was brought out in our text. The words do not mean that we should be always upon our knees, but that we should stand at all times in conscious contact with our Lord.

III. WHY SHOULD WE PRAY? (Matthew 18:20 )

Our text suggests one of the marvelous privileges of prayer. It is the privilege of fellowship. When we pray Christ is in the midst. Somehow, or other, He draws near our souls to bless. He manifests Himself unto us.

Some one said once that he saw no sense in praying to some one a million, billion miles off. However, when we pray, God is not in the Heavens; He is on the earth. He is not only on the earth, but He is in our room, in our closet, on our housetop, on our mountain side. He is just where we are, as we lift up our voices to Him.

Ellen L. Goreh expresses it beautifully: "In the secret of His presence how my soul delights to hide."

1. Prayer transforms us. If anyone should ask us why we should pray, we would not answer in order that we may get something. We would answer: in order that we may be something.

It was while Jesus prayed that His countenance was altered, and He was transfigured. It is while we pray that we are changed into His image. We become more or less like those with whom we fellowship. We cannot go into a place of unholy amusement without being affected thereby. Neither can we go into the presence of our Lord without being affected thereby, and will bear the image of the Saviour in our face.

2. Prayer reveals to us. In Genesis 18:17 we read about Abraham, the man who walked with God, and who was the friend of God. God said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" Abraham drew near to God and prayed. It is in prayer that God will tell us what He wants us to be, where He wants us to go, and what He wants us to do.

3. Prayer empowers us. In Acts 4:31 we read that when they had prayed, the place was shaken. If you will follow the story of the Apostles in this Book you will find that prayer held a very vital place in the lives of the early saints. Prayer was the connection link between those who gave witness for the Lord and the great dynamo of Heaven. Let no one imagine therefore that prayer is a useless waste of breath.

IV. FOR WHAT SHOULD WE PRAY? (Matthew 9:37-38 )

In answer to this question we find ourselves in as large a realm as we faced when we spoke of where and when we should pray. We said we could pray everywhere and at any time. Now we say we can pray for any and everything which our life demands.

1. We may pray for wisdom. In James we are told that if any man lack wisdom he is to ask of God. Wisdom is the power to do a thing right, to work with skill. Some people do plenty, but they make a mess of it. Wisdom is not so much the accumulation of knowledge, as it is the right use of knowledge. Wisdom is not knowing a thing, but doing a thing properly. It comes down from the Father of Lights. This being true, it is right for us to pray for wisdom.

2. We may pray for health. John, the beloved disciple, prayed for his dear friend, Gaius, that he might prosper and be in health even as his soul prospered. The Bible plainly tells us that those who are sick should call for the elders of the Church to anoint them with oil in the Name of the Lord. The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.

3. We should pray for the peace of Jerusalem. This is the admonition of the Holy Ghost as recorded in Psalms 122:6 . Jerusalem is primarily the city which we all know is the seat of the Jews' earthly estate. Jerusalem here, however, stands not only for the city, but also for the Jews who inhabit the city, and all Israel at large. This should be one objective in prayer.

4. We should pray for reapers. Our key text gives Christ's command to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth laborers into the harvest. As we read this message, missionary opportunity lies wide open before us. There are hands outstretched pleading for help. We want to give, we want to go, and we want to let others go. There is something else included in our duty toward the dying heathen; we must pray in their behalf.

V. WHO SHOULD PRAY? (Hebrews 11:6 )

When we consider prayer as the greatest privilege given to man, we wonder who it is that can enjoy this privilege. If prayer means power and plenty, and the presence of God manifested among us, we want to know who can pray.

Our text tells us that he who cometh to God must believe that God is, and that He is the Rewarder of them who diligently seek Him. We do not hesitate to say that believers alone may pray. Others may carry out a form of prayer just like they have a form of godliness, but they know nothing of the benefactions of prayer.

1. The righteous may pray. In Proverbs 15:29 we are told that, "The Lord is far from the wicked: but He heareth the prayer of the righteous." It is only the unsaved who are shut off from the privilege of prayer. If we expect our prayer to grip the throne of God we must be clean and separated and holy before God. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."

2. The lowly may pray. When we approach the throne of God we must come with bowed heads and bended knees. If we come to Him with a proud spirit God will not, and cannot hear us. It is the meek whom He hears. It is the lowly for whom the Lord has respect (Psalms 138:6 ).

3. Sons may pray. It is because we are sons that God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba, Father." When we pray as sons we pray unto God as Father. It is this that brings unto us, through the Spirit, a ready and a free access unto God. No one may call God "Father" except he is son. No one is a son except he is born of the Father. Thus we see that the unsaved are necessarily excluded from the privileges of sonship prayers. Sons may pray in the full experience of liberty, and yet even sons should come without arrogancy. We need, as sons, to feel at home with the Father, but we should have nothing of arrogancy or undue familiarity in our approach. We need to say, "Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name."

VI. HOW SHOULD WE PRAY? (Judges 1:20 )

We now come to a very interesting phase in our study. Our text tells us that we should pray in the Holy Ghost. It is true that we know not how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit, Himself, makes groanings within us. He not only aids our prayers, but He indites our prayers. He joins with us in our prayers. What a wonderful help to prayer is the Holy Ghost!

1. We should pray with assurance. The Word of God says in Hebrews: "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith." He that doubteth is like a wave of the sea driven of the wind and tossed. Let not that man think that he shall receive anything from the Lord. If we come into the presence of the Lord we must come believing, or else we cast shame upon Him. "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." God holds the measuring line in His hand ready to mark off the prayers or requests, therefore He says it will be unto us according to our faith.

2. We should pray in Christ's Name. This we see in John 14:14, and in John 16:24 . "If ye shall ask any thing in My Name, I will do it." And again, "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name: ask, and ye shall receive." If we want to know how to pray we must know that there is nothing in ourselves that gives us the right of access unto the Father. We must approach by virtue of the Blood of Christ, not only so, but we must pray under the sanction of Jesus Christ, under His approval and endorsement. We must have His Name penned to our prayers. We must not merely plead His Name and His power, but He must be willing to vouchsafe to our prayers the stamp of His Name. It is not our writing out a check upon the bank of Heaven, and signing Christ's Name to it; it is that our checks must have His signature before they are valid in the courts of Glory.

VII. TO WHOM SHALL WE PRAY? (Ephesians 3:14 )

There is a great deal of discussion these days as to whom we should address our prayers. There are many who say, "Dear Jesus," and they seem to center all their prayers to the Son. We would not say that it is wicked so to do. However, we should remember that God has given us in very definite language three outstanding statements as to whom to address.

1. We should pray to the Father. Paul said, "For this cause I Bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." The prayer which our Lord gave His disciples began, "Our Father which art in Heaven."

There is a danger in these days of our eliminating God, the Father, from our whole religious concept. This is what we might term a "Jesus age." Men seem to forget that the whole plan of redemption was the plan of the Father. They seem to be ignorant of the fact that it was God the Father who was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. It was God who so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. It was God who commended His love toward us in that Christ died for us. Worship should always recognize the Father.

In the Book of the Revelation the four living ones and the four and twenty elders are described as giving honor unto the Father, but not to the Father apart from the Son, for in their second great worshipful outburst they cry, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain."

2. We should pray through the Son. Our Lord said, "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me." There are certain organizations who purposefully leave out the Name of the Lord Jesus when they go through the form of prayer. When this is done all possibility of reaching the Father is lost. Every prayer we pray to God may not have appended to it "for Jesus' sake" or "in the Name of Jesus," but every prayer must, at least, have the unwritten or unstated acceptance of the fact that prayer is efficacious and possible only through the Son. God could reach man only by way of the Cross; man can reach God only by that same way.

3. We should pray by the Spirit. In Ephesians 2:18 we read: "For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." The word, "Spirit" refers to Jew and Gentile. The statement that we have access by one Spirit, does not mean through one Spirit, in the same sense that we have access through or by virtue of the Calvary work of our Lord Jesus Christ. We might put it this way: We pray to the Father through the mediation of Jesus Christ, by the enabling of the Holy Ghost. Therefore when we pray, it is just as vital to recognize the unctionizing Spirit, and His part in our prayers, as it is to recognize the high priestly work of the Son, who by virtue of His Cross makes our prayers acceptable.



"Prayer, delayed answer not denial. Amid the turmoil and excitement and hurry of this busy world we need to learn the lesson of patient waiting on God, who is never in haste. An incident recorded by Dr. Wayland Hoyt illustrates this thought. 'They have preserved in Bedford, England, the door of the jail which was locked upon John Bunyan. I looked at it long and earnestly. I thought of the many prayers which Bunyan must have pleaded behind it that that jail door might swing open for him. Yet for twelve years the bolts of that door stood undrawn. But the delay was how affluently fruitful. Dreams were going on behind that door, and the world needed them. When "The Pilgrim's Progress" of which Bunyan dreamed had taken shape and tangibility, Bunyan's Lord, who had never for an instant forgotten him while the slow years passed, swung that jail door wide. Let us give God time. Let us trust His wisdom. Sometimes quick answer would be worst answer. Let us learn Adam Slowman's so needed lesson for our impatient hearts, that "delays are not denials."' "

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Living Water".

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture



Philippians 4:8.

I am half afraid that some of you may think, as I have at times thought, that I am too old to preach to the young. You would probably listen with more attention to one less remote from you in years, and may be disposed to discount my advices as quite natural for an old man to give, and quite unnatural for a young man to take. But, dear friends, the message which I have to bring to you is meant for all ages, and for all sorts of people. And, if I may venture a personal word, I proved it, when I stood where you stand, and it is fresher and mightier to me to-day than it ever was.

You are in the plastic period of your lives, with the world before you, and the mightier world within to mould as you will; and you can be almost anything you like, I do not mean in regard to externals, or intellectual capacities, for these are only partially in our control, but in regard to the far more important and real things--viz. elevation and purity of heart and mind. You are in the period of life to which fair dreams of the future are natural. It is, as the prophet tells us, for ‘the young man’ to ‘see visions,’ and to ennoble his life thereafter by turning them into realities. Generous and noble ideas ought to belong to youth. But you are also in the period when there is a keen joy in mere living, and when some desires, which get weaker as years go on, are very strong, and may mar youthful purity. So, taking all these into account, I have thought that I could not do better than press home upon you the counsels of this magnificent text, however inadequately my time may permit of my dealing with them; for there are dozens of sermons in it, if one could expand it worthily.

But my purpose is distinctly practical, and so I wish just to cast what I have to say to you into the answer to three questions, the three questions that may be asked about everything. What? Why? How?

I. What, then, is the counsel here?

‘Think on these things.’ To begin with, that advice implies that we can, and, therefore, that we should, exercise a very rigid control over that part of our lives which a great many of us never think of controlling at all. There are hosts of people whose thoughts are just hooked on to one another by the slightest links of accidental connection, and who scarcely ever have put a strong hand upon them, or coerced them into order, or decided what they are going to let come into their minds, and what to keep out. Circumstances, the necessities of our daily occupations, the duties that we owe to one another, all these make certain streams of thought very necessary, and to some of us very absorbing. And for the rest--well! ‘He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls’; anybody can go in, and anybody can come out. I am sure that amongst young men and women there are multitudes who have never realised how responsible they are for the flow of the waves of that great river that is always coming from the depths of their being, and have never asked whether the current is bringing down sand or gold. Exercise control, as becomes you, over the run and drift of your thoughts. I said that many of us had minds like cities broken down. Put a guard at the gate, as they do in some Continental countries, and let in no vagrant that cannot show his passport, and a clear bill of health. Now, that is a lesson that some of you very much want.

But, further, notice that company of fair guests that you may welcome into the hospitalities of your heart and mind. ‘Think on these things’--and what are they? It would be absurd of me to try to exhaust the great catalogue which the Apostle gives here, but let me say a word or two about it.

‘Whatsoever things are true . . . think on these things.’ Let your minds be exercised, breathed, braced, lifted, filled by bringing them into contact with truth, especially with the highest of all truths, the truths affecting God and your relations to Him. Why should you, like so many of us, be living amidst the small things of daily life, the trifles that are here, and never coming into vital contact with the greatest things of all, the truths about God and Christ, and what you have to do with them, and what they have to do with you? ‘Whatsoever things are true . . . think on these things.’

‘Whatsoever things are honest,’ or, as the word more properly and nobly means, ‘Whatsoever things are reverent , or venerable ‘--let grave, serious, solemn thought be familiar to your minds, not frivolities, not mean things. There is an old story in Roman history about the barbarians breaking into the Capitol, and their fury being awed into silence, and struck into immobility, as they saw, round and round in the hall, the august Senators, each in his seat. Let your minds be like that, with reverent thoughts clustering on every side; and when wild passions, and animal desires, and low, mean contemplations dare to cross the threshold, they will be awed into silence and stillness. ‘Whatsoever things are august . . . think on these things.’

‘Whatsoever things are just’--let the great, solemn thought of duty, obligation, what I ought to be and do, be very familiar to your consideration and meditation. ‘Whatsoever things are just . . . think on these things.’

‘Whatsoever things are pure’--let white-robed angels haunt the place. Let there be in you a shuddering recoil from all the opposite; and entertain angels not unawares. ‘Whatsoever things are pure . . . think on these things.’

Now, these characteristics of thoughts which I have already touched upon all belong to a lofty region, but the Apostle is not contented with speaking austere things. He goes now into a region tinged with emotion, and he says, ‘whatsoever things are lovely’; for goodness is beautiful, and, in effect, is the only beautiful. ‘Whatsoever things are lovely . . . think on these things.’ And ‘whatsoever things are of good report’--all the things that men speak well of, and speak good in the very naming of, let thoughts of them be in your minds.

And then he gathers all up into two words. ‘If there be any virtue’--which covers the ground of the first four, that he has already spoken about--viz. true, venerable, just, pure; and ‘if there be any praise’--which resumes and sums up the two last: ‘lovely and of good report,’ ‘think on these things.’

Now, if my purpose allowed it, one would like to point out here how the Apostle accepts the non-Christian notions of the people in whose tongue he was speaking; and here, for the only time in his letters, uses the great Pagan word ‘virtue,’ which was a spell amongst the Greeks, and says, ‘I accept the world’s notion of what is virtuous and praiseworthy, and I bid you take it to your hearts.’

Dear brethren, Christianity covers all the ground that the noblest morality has ever attempted to mark out and possess, and it covers a great deal more. ‘If there be any virtue, as you Greeks are fond of talking about, and if there be any praise, if there is anything in men which commends noble actions, think on these things.’

Now, you will not obey this commandment unless you obey also the negative side of it. That is to say, you will not think on these fair forms, and bring them into your hearts, unless you turn away, by resolute effort, from their opposites. There are some, and I am afraid that in a congregation as large as this there must be some representatives of the class, who seem to turn this apostolic precept right round about, and whatsoever things are illusory and vain, whatsoever things are mean, and frivolous, and contemptible, whatsoever things are unjust, and whatsoever things are impure, and whatsoever things are ugly, and whatsoever things are branded with a stigma by all men they think on these things. Like the flies that are attracted to a piece of putrid meat, there are young men who are drawn by all the lustful, the lewd, the impure thoughts; and there are young women who are too idle and uncultivated to have any pleasure in anything higher than gossip and trivial fiction. ‘Whatsoever things are noble and lovely, think on these things,’ and get rid of all the others.

There are plenty of occasions round about you to force the opposite upon your notice; and, unless you shut your door fast, and double-lock it, they will be sure to come in:--Popular literature, the scrappy trivialities that are put into some periodicals, what they call ‘realistic fiction’; modern Art, which has come to be largely the servant of sense; the Stage, which has come--and more is the pity! for there are enormous possibilities of good in it--to be largely a minister of corruption, or if not of corruption at least of frivolity--all these things are appealing to you. And some of you young men, away from the restraints of home, and in a city, where you think nobody could see you sowing your wild oats, have got entangled with them. I beseech you, cast out all this filth, and all this meanness and pettiness from your habitual thinkings, and let the august and the lovely and the pure and the true come in instead. You have the cup in your hand, you can either press into it clusters of ripe grapes, and make mellow wine, or you can squeeze into it wormwood and gall and hemlock and poison-berries; and, as you brew, you have to drink. You have the canvas, and you are to cover it with the figures that you like best. You can either do as Fra Angelico did, who painted the white walls of every cell in his quiet convent with Madonnas and angels and risen Christs, or you can do like some of those low-toned Dutch painters, who never can get above a brass pan and a carrot, and ugly boors and women, and fill the canvas with vulgarities and deformities. Choose which you will have to keep you company.

II. Now, let me ask you to think for a moment why this counsel is pressed upon you.

Let me put the reasons very briefly. They are, first, because thought moulds action. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.’ One looks round the world, and all these solid-seeming realities of institutions, buildings, governments, inventions and machines, steamships and electric telegrams, laws and governments, palaces and fortresses, they are all but embodied thoughts. There was a thought at the back of each of them which took shape. So, in another sense than the one in which the saying was originally meant, but yet an august and solemn sense, ‘the word is made flesh,’ and our thoughts became visible, and stand round us, a ghastly company. Sooner or later what has been the drift and trend of a man’s life comes out, flashes out sometimes, and dribbles out at other times, into visibility in his actions; and, just as the thunder follows on the swift passage of the lightning, so my acts are neither more nor less than the reverberation and after-clap of my thoughts.

So if you are entertaining in your hearts and minds this august company of which my text speaks, your lives will be fair and beautiful. For what does the Apostle immediately go on to add to our text? ‘These things do’--as you certainly will if you think about them, and as you certainly will not unless you do.

Again, thought and work make character. We come into the world with certain dispositions and bias. But that is not character, it is only the raw material of character. It is all plastic, like the lava when it comes out of the volcano. But it hardens, and whatever else my thought may do, and whatever effects may follow upon any of my actions, the recoil of them on myself is the most important effect to me. And there is not a thought that comes into, and is entertained by a man, or rolled as a sweet morsel under his tongue, but contributes its own little but appreciable something to the making of the man’s character. I wonder if there is anybody in this chapel now who has been so long accustomed to entertain these angels of whom my text speaks as that to entertain their opposites would be an impossibility. I hope there is. I wonder if there is anybody in this chapel to-night who has been so long accustomed to live amidst the thoughts that are small and trivial and frivolous, if not amongst those that are impure and abominable, as that to entertain their opposites seems almost an impossibility. I am afraid there are some. I remember hearing about a Maori woman who had come to live in one of the cities in New Zealand, in a respectable station, and after a year or two of it she left husband and children, and civilisation, and hurried back to her tribe, flung off the European garb, and donned the blanket, and was happy crouching over the embers on the clay hearth. Some of you have become so accustomed to the low, the wicked, the lustful, the impure, the frivolous, the contemptible, that you cannot, or, at any rate, have lost all disposition to rise to the lofty, the pure, and the true.

Once more; as thought makes deeds, and thought and deeds make character, so character makes destiny, here and hereafter. If you have these blessed thoughts in your hearts and minds, as your continual companions and your habitual guests, then, my friend, you will have a light within that will burn all independent of externals; and whether the world smiles or frowns on you, you will have the true wealth in yourselves; ‘a better and enduring substance.’ You will have peace, you will be lords of the world, and having nothing yet may have all. No harm can come to the man who has laid up in his youth, as the best treasure of old age, this possession of these thoughts enjoined in my text.

And character makes destiny hereafter. What is a man whose whole life has been one long thought about money-making, or about other objects of earthly ambition, or about the lusts of the flesh, and the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life, to do in heaven? What would one of those fishes in the sunless caverns of America, which, by long living in the dark, have lost their eyes, do, if it were brought out into the sunshine? A man will go to his own place, the place for which he is fitted, the place for which he has fitted himself by his daily life, and especially by the trend and the direction of his thoughts.

So do not be led away by talk about ‘seeing both sides,’ about ‘seeing life,’ about ‘knowing what is going on.’ ‘I would have you simple concerning evil, and wise concerning good.’ Do not be led away by talk about having your fling, and sowing your wild oats. You may make an indelible stain on your conscience, which even forgiveness will not wipe out; and you may sow your wild oats, but what will the harvest be? ‘Whatsoever a man soweth that’-- that --’shall he also reap.’ Would you like all your low thoughts, all your foul thoughts, to return and sit down beside you, and say, ‘We have come to keep you company for ever’? ‘If there be any virtue . . . think on these things.’

III. Now, lastly, how is this precept best obeyed?

I have been speaking to some extent about that, and saying that there must be real, honest, continuous effort to keep out the opposite, as well as to bring in the ‘things that are lovely and of good report.’ But there is one more word that I must say in answer to the question how this precept can be observed, and it is just this. All these things, true, venerable, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, are not things only; they are embodied in a Person. For whatever things are fair meet in Jesus Christ, and He, in His living self, is the sum of all virtue and of all praise. So that if we link ourselves to Him by faith and love, and take Him into our hearts and minds, and abide in Him, we have them all gathered together into that One. Thinking on these things is not merely a meditating upon abstractions, but it is clutching and living in and with and by the living, loving Lord and Saviour of us all. If Christ is in my thoughts, all good things are there.

If you trust Him, and make him your Companion, He will help you, He will give you His own life, and in it will give you tastes and desires which will make all these fair thoughts congenial to you, and will deliver you from the else hopeless bondage of subjection to their very opposites.

Brethren, our souls cleave to the dust, and all our efforts will be foiled, partially or entirely, to obey this precept, unless we remember that it was spoken to people who had previously obeyed a previous commandment, and had taken Christ for their Saviour. We gravitate earthwards, alas! after all our efforts, but if we will put ourselves in His hands, then He will be as a Magnet drawing us upwards, or rather He will give us wings of love and contemplation by which we can soar above that dim spot that men call Earth, and walk in the heavenly places. The way by which this commandment can be obeyed is by obeying the other precept of the same Apostle, ‘Set your minds on things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.’

I beseech you, take Christ and enthrone Him in the very sanctuary of your minds. Then you will have all these venerable, pure, blessed thoughts as the very atmosphere in which you move. ‘Think on these things . . . these things do! . . . and the God of Peace shall be with you.’

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Various Exhortations. A. D. 62.

1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. 2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

The apostle begins the chapter with exhortations to divers Christian duties.

I. To stedfastness in our Christian profession, Philippians 4:1. It is inferred from the close of the foregoing chapter: Therefore stand fast, &c. Seeing our conversation is in heaven, and we look for the Saviour to come thence and fetch us thither, therefore let us stand fast. Note, The believing hope and prospect of eternal life should engage us to be steady, even, and constant, in our Christian course. Observe here,

1. The compellations are very endearing: My brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown and again, My dearly beloved. Thus he expresses the pleasure he took in them, the kindness he had for them, to convey his exhortations to them with so much the greater advantage. He looked upon them as his brethren, though he was a great apostle. All we are brethren. There is difference of gifts, graces, and attainments, yet, being renewed by the same Spirit, after the same image, we are brethren as the children of the same parents, though of different ages, statures, and complexions. Being brethren, (1.) He loved them, and loved them dearly: Dearly beloved and again, My dearly beloved. Warm affections become ministers and Christians towards one another. Brotherly love must always go along with brotherly relation. (2.) He loved them and longed for them, longed to see them and hear from them, longed for their welfare and was earnestly desirous of it. I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:8. (3.) He loved them and rejoiced in them. They were his joy he had no greater joy than to hear of their spiritual health and prosperity. I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in the truth, 2 John 4; 3 John 4. (4.) he loved them and gloried in them. They were his crown as well as his joy. Never was proud ambitious man more pleased with the ensigns of honour than Paul was with the evidences of the sincerity of their faith and obedience. All this is to prepare his way to greater regard.

2. The exhortation itself: So stand fast in the Lord. Being in Christ, they must stand fast in him, be even and steady in their walk with him, and close and constant unto the end. Or, To stand fast in the Lord is to stand fast in his strength and by his grace not trusting in ourselves, and disclaiming any sufficiency of our own. We must be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, Ephesians 6:10. "So stand fast, so as you have done hitherto, stand fast unto the end, so as you are by beloved, and my joy and crown so stand fast as those in whose welfare and perseverance I am so nearly interested and concerned."

II. He exhorts them to unanimity and mutual assistance (Philippians 4:2,3): I beseech Euodias and Syntyche that they be of the same mind in the Lord. This is directed to some particular persons. Sometimes there is need of applying the general precepts of the gospel to particular persons and cases. Euodias and Syntyche, it seems, were at variance, either one with the other or with the church either upon a civil account (it may be they were engaged in a law-suit) or upon a religious account--it may be they were of different opinions and sentiments. "Pray," says he, "desire them from me to be of the same mind in the Lord, to keep the peace and live in love, to be of the same mind one with another, not thwarting and contradicting, and to be of the same mind with the rest of the church, not acting in opposition to them." Then he exhorts to mutual assistance (Philippians 4:3), and this exhortation he directs to particular persons: I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow. Who this person was whom he calls true yoke-fellow is uncertain. Some think Epaphroditus, who is supposed to have been one of the pastors of the church of the Philippians. Others think it was some eminently good woman, perhaps Paul's wife, because he exhorts his yoke-fellow to help the women who laboured with him. Whoever was the yoke-fellow with the apostle must be a yoke-fellow too with his friends. It seems, there were women who laboured with Paul in the gospel not in the public ministry (for the apostle expressly forbids that, 1 Timothy 2:12, I suffer not a woman to teach), but by entertaining the ministers, visiting the sick, instructing the ignorant, convincing the erroneous. Thus women may be helpful to ministers in the work of the gospel. Now, says the apostle, do thou help them. Those who help others should be helped themselves when there is occasion. "Help them, that is, join with them, strengthen their hands, encourage them in their difficulties."--With Clement also, and other my fellow-labourers. Paul had a kindness for all his fellow-labourers and, as he had found the benefit of their assistance, he concluded how comfortable it would be to them to have the assistance of others. Of his fellow-labourers he says, Whose names are in the book of life either they were chosen of God from all eternity, or registered and enrolled in the corporation and society to which the privilege of eternal life belongs, alluding to the custom among the Jews and Gentiles of registering the inhabitants or the freemen of the city. So we read of their names being written in heaven (Luke 10:20), not blotting his name out of the book of life (Revelation 3:5), and of those who are written in the Lamb's book of life, Revelation 21:27. Observe, There is a book of life there are names in that book and not characters and conditions only. We cannot search into that book, or know whose names are written there but we may, in a judgment of charity, conclude that those who labour in the gospel, and are faithful to the interest of Christ and souls, have their names in the book of life.

III. He exhorts to holy joy and delight in God: Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice, Philippians 4:4. All our joy must terminate in God and our thoughts of God must be delightful thoughts. Delight thyself in the Lord (Psalm 37:4), in the multitude of our thoughts within us (grievous and afflicting thoughts) his comforts delight our souls (Psalm 94:19), and our meditation of him is sweet, Psalm 104:34. Observe, It is our duty and privilege to rejoice in God, and to rejoice in him always at all times, in all conditions even when we suffer for him, or are afflicted by him. We must not think the worse of him or of his ways for the hardships we meet with in his service. There is enough in God to furnish us with matter of joy in the worst circumstance on earth. He had said it before (Philippians 3:1): Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. Here he says it again, Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say Rejoice. Joy in God is a duty of great consequence in the Christian life and Christians need to be again and again called to it. If good men have not a continual feast, it is their own fault.

IV. We are here exhorted to candour and gentleness, and good temper towards our brethren: "Let your moderation be known to all men, Philippians 4:5. In things indifferent do not run into extremes avoid bigotry and animosity judge charitably concerning one another." The word to epieikes signifies a good disposition towards other men and this moderation is explained, Romans 14:1-23. Some understand it of the patient bearing of afflictions, or the sober enjoyment of worldly good and so it well agrees with the Philippians 4:6. The reason is, the Lord is at hand. The consideration of our Master's approach, and our final account, should keep us from smiting our fellow-servants, support us under present sufferings, and moderate our affections to outward good. "He will take vengeance on your enemies, and reward your patience."

V. Here is a caution against disquieting perplexing care (Philippians 4:6): Be careful for nothing--meden merimnate: the same expression with that Matthew 6:25, Take no thought for your life that is, avoid anxious care and distracting thought in the wants and difficulties of life. Observe, It is the duty and interest of Christians to live without care. There is a care of diligence which is our duty, and consists in a wise forecast and due concern but there is a care of diffidence and distrust which is our sin and folly, and which only perplexes and distracts the mind. "Be careful for nothing, so as by your care to distrust God, and unfit yourselves for his service."

VI. As a sovereign antidote against perplexing care he recommends to us constant prayer: In every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Observe, 1. We must not only keep up stated times for prayer, but we must pray upon every particular emergency: In every thing by prayer. When any thing burdens our spirits, we must ease our minds by prayer when our affairs are perplexed or distressed, we must seek direction and support. 2. We must join thanksgiving with our prayers and supplications. We must not only seek supplies of good, but own receipts of mercy. Grateful acknowledgments of what we have argue a right disposition of mind, and are prevailing motives for further blessings. 3. Prayer is the offering up of our desires to God, or making them known to him: Let your requests be made known to God. Not that God needs to be told either our wants or desires for he knows them better than we can tell him: but he will know them from us, and have us show our regards and concern, express our value of the mercy and sense of our dependence on him. 4. The effect of this will be the peace of God keeping our hearts, Philippians 4:7. The peace of God, that is, the comfortable sense of our reconciliation to God and interest in his favour, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, and enjoyment of God hereafter, which passeth all understanding, is a great good than can be sufficiently valued or duly expressed. It has not entered into the heart of ham, 1 Corinthians 2:9. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus it will keep us from sinning under our troubles, and from sinking under them keep us calm and sedate, without discomposure of passion, and with inward satisfaction. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, Isaiah 26:3.

VII. We are exhorted to get and keep a good name, a name for good things with God and good men: Whatsoever things are true and honest (Philippians 4:8), a regard to truth in our words and engagements, and to decency and becomingness in our behaviour, suitable to our circumstances and condition of life. Whatsoever things are just and pure,--agreeable to the rules of justice and righteousness in all our dealings with men, and without the impurity or mixture of sin. Whatsoever things are lovely and of good report, that is, amiable that will render us beloved, and make us well spoken of, as well as well thought of, by others. If there is any virtue, if there is any praise--any thing really virtuous of any kind and worthy of commendation. Observe, 1. The apostle would have the Christians learn any thing which was good of their heathen neighbours: "If there be any virtue, think of these things--imitate them in what is truly excellent among them, and let not them outdo you in any instance of goodness." We should not be ashamed to learn any good thing of bad men, or those who have not our advantages. 2. Virtue has its praise, and will have. We should walk in all the ways of virtue, and abide therein and then, whether our praise be of men or no, it will be of God, Romans 2:29.

In these things he proposes himself to them for an example (Philippians 4:9): Those things which you have learned, and received, and heard and seen in me, do. Observe, Paul's doctrine and life were of a piece. What they saw in him was the same thing with what they heard from him. He could propose himself as well as his doctrine to their imitation. It gives a great force to what we say to others when we can appeal to what they have seen in us. And this is the way to have the God of peace with us--to keep close to our duty to him. The Lord is with us while we are with him.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Let believers be of one mind, and ready to help each other. As the apostle had found the benefit of their assistance, he knew how comfortable it would be to his fellow-labourers to have the help of others. Let us seek to give assurance that our names are written in the book of life. Joy in God is of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it. It more than outweighs all causes for sorrow. Let their enemies perceive how moderate they were as to outward things, and how composedly they suffered loss and hardships. The day of judgment will soon arrive, with full redemption to believers, and destruction to ungodly men. There is a care of diligence which is our duty, and agrees with a wise forecast and due concern; but there is a care of fear and distrust, which is sin and folly, and only perplexes and distracts the mind. As a remedy against perplexing care, constant prayer is recommended. Not only stated times for prayer, but in every thing by prayer. We must join thanksgivings with prayers and supplications; not only seek supplies of good, but own the mercies we have received. God needs not to be told our wants or desires; he knows them better than we do; but he will have us show that we value the mercy, and feel our dependence on him. The peace of God, the comfortable sense of being reconciled to God, and having a part in his favour, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, are a greater good than can be fully expressed. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinning under troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm and with inward satisfaction. Believers are to get and to keep a good name; a name for good things with God and good men. We should walk in all the ways of virtue, and abide therein; then, whether our praise is of men or not, it will be of God. The apostle is for an example. His doctrine and life agreed together. The way to have the God of peace with us, is to keep close to our duty. All our privileges and salvation arise in the free mercy of God; yet the enjoyment of them depends on our sincere and holy conduct. These are works of God, pertaining to God, and to him only are they to be ascribed, and to no other, neither men, words, nor deeds.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

As to what remains, he doth, with the fair compellation of

brethren, furthermore propose to their serious consideration, living in the neighbourhood of the Gentiles, what he doth here, hastening to a conclusion, heap up and fold together: especially,

whatsoever things are true, agree with truth and doctrine, in word and conversation, which show candour and sincerity of conscience, both with reference to believers and to infidels, Psalms 15:2 Ephesians 4:14,15,25.

Honest; venerable and grave, as becometh the gospel, Philippians 1:27, to adorn the gospel of God our Saviour, Romans 12:17 13:13 Titus 2:10; avoiding what may argue levity or dishonesty in gesture, apparel, words, and deeds, 2 Corinthians 7:2.

Just; giving what is due to every one by the law of nature, or nations, or the country, without guile, and not injuring any one, Ruth 3:13 Nehemiah 5:11 Matthew 22:21 Romans 13:7,8 Col 4:1 1 Timothy 5:8 Titus 1:8 2:12.

Pure; keeping themselves undefiled in the way, Psalms 119:1, from the pollution of sin, 1 John 3:3, and the blemishes of filthy words and deeds, Ephesians 4:29 5:3-5.

Lovely; whatsoever may gain the real respect of, and be grateful to, good men, in an affable deportment acceptable to God, Titus 3:2.

Of good report; whatsoever is in a tendency to maintain a good name; not to court vain-glory or popular applause, Galatians 1:10, but that which may be for the honour of Christ, and the reputation of the gospel among the Gentiles, Romans 15:2 1 Peter 2:12; in agreement with the word of God; otherwise we must pass through evil as well as good report, Luke 16:15 2 Corinthians 6:8.

If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise; and upon supposition there be really any other commendable practice amongst any, any praiseworthy deportment.

Think on these things; diligently consider and prosecute these things.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Final Words Of Admonition And Guidance (Philippians 4:1-9).

Approaching the end of his letter on the glorious note found in the previous verses Paul now takes them back in Philippians 4:1 to that revelation, and also at the same time to his admonition in Philippians 1:27 to ‘stand fast in one Spirit’, although now wording the admonition as to ‘stand fast in the Lord’. Thus the urge to ‘stand fast’, and the basis on which to do so, can be seen as one underlying theme of the letter. Indeed we have been given every reason for standing fast in that way based on the power available to us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The paralleling of ‘the Spirit’ with ‘the Lord’ in this way is similarly prominent also in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, which warns us against making too separate a distinction between Their activities. Indeed Jesus Himself makes clear that we make a grave error if we distinguish the Spirit from the Lord too decisively or vice versa, for in John 14:16-17, where He promises the coming of the Holy Spirit as ‘the Helper (Paraclete)’ Jesus also promised that, ‘I will not leave you without help, I will come to you’ (John 14:18). And He then went on to point out that ‘he who loves Me will be loved of My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him’ (John 14:21), immediately adding, ‘and WE (the Father and the Son) will come to him and make our abode with him’ (John 14:23). This should cause us to recognise with joy that while the Spirit has come, and we have all been united together in one Spirit, Jesus Christ Himself is not an absent landlord. In His own words both He and the Father also dwell within us (the plurality emphasised by the ‘we’) and live through us. And in Matthew 28:20 He emphasises, ‘Lo, I am with you always’.Thus we are not only the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19), but also the temple of the Triune God. This is emphasised in 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 where we are told that we are ‘the temple of the living God, as God has said, “I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they will be by My People” --- and I will receive you and will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and My daughters, says the Lord God Almighty.’ Thus while there are certainly personal distinctions within the Godhead, there is also a unity of action, with all acting together.

Meanwhile we should note again that, while certainly looking back to Philippians 1:27 and what follows, Philippians 4:1 also specifically connects back with Philippians 3:10-21, indicating that one reason why they can stand fast in the Lord with the utmost confidence is because they are empowered by His resurrection and are citizens of Heaven, looking for their Lord and Saviour to come visibly from Heaven to transform them beyond their dreams.

Furthermore, we may see the whole of this passage in Philippians 4:1-9 as a kind of summing up of the letter, for it very much has in mind many of the things that have been said in it. Consider, for example, the following:

· The call to ‘stand fast’ has in mind Philippians 1:27, which as we saw was preparation for the main body of the letter.

· ‘My brothers’ parallels Philippians 1:12; Philippians 3:1; Philippians 3:13; Philippians 3:17.

· ‘Beloved’, twice repeated, parallels Philippians 2:12, and all Paul’s indications of affection for the Philippians (e.g. Philippians 1:4-5; Philippians 1:7-8).

· ‘Longed for’ parallels Philippians 1:8, where Paul ‘longs for’ their spiritual growth, and also to see them again.

· ‘My joy and crown’ parallels the idea in Philippians 2:16 where Paul expected ‘in the Day of Christ’ that he would prove not to have ‘run and laboured in vain’ because he was looking forward to ‘the prize’ of the high calling of God (Philippians 3:14). See in this respect Corinthians Philippians 3:10-15 where he outlines what awaits the faithful servant of Christ, and compare also 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 3:9 where the Thessalonians were also his hope and joy and crown of rejoicing.

· ‘To be of the same mind in the Lord’ parallels Philippians 2:2 where the Philippians were urged to ‘be of the same mind in everything’. Compare the references to mind in Philippians 1:7; Philippians 2:5; Philippians 3:15; Philippians 3:19.

· ‘For they laboured with me in the Gospel’ parallels Philippians 1:5, ‘for you are all partakers with me of grace -- in my defence and confirmation of the Gospel’ and 1. 27, ‘with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel’.

· For reference to ‘The Gospel’ compare Philippians 1:5; Philippians 1:7; Philippians 1:12; Philippians 1:16; Philippians 1:22; Philippians 2:22.

· ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice’ (Philippians 4:4) parallels Philippians 2:17-18; Philippians 3:1 a, and the whole atmosphere of the letter (as described in the introduction).

· For ‘Let your forbearance (gentleness) be known to all men’ (Philippians 4:5), compare ‘do all things without grumbling and questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent -- in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you shine as lights in the world’ (Philippians 2:14-15).

· For ‘in nothing be anxious’ (Philippians 4:6) compare ‘in nothing be frightened’ in Philippians 1:28.

· For ‘whatever things are true, whatever things are honourable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, weigh up these things’ (Philippians 4:8), compare ‘so that you may approve what is excellent’ (Philippians 1:10).

· For ‘the things which you both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do’, compare ‘brothers, join in imitating me’ (Philippians 3:17).

· We should also note the use of ‘the Lord’ as a designation of Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:1-2; Philippians 4:4-5; Philippians 4:10), a use apparent throughout the letter (see Philippians 1:14; Philippians 2:24; Philippians 2:29; Philippians 3:1).

With this in mind we can now consider the verses in more detail.

Analysis Of Philippians 4:1-9.

a For which reason, my brothers, beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my beloved (Philippians 4:1).

bI exhort Euodia, and I exhort Syntyche, to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, I beseech you also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of life (Philippians 4:2-3).

c Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice (Philippians 4:4).

d Let your forbearance be known to all men. The Lord is at hand (Philippians 4:5).

c In nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

b Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honourable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, weigh up these things (Philippians 4:8).

a The things which you both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:9).

Note that in ‘a’ they are to have their attention fixed on the Lord as they stand fast in Him, while in the parallel in typical Pauline fashion they are to use Paul as a living example by which they can do this. In ‘b’ they are to be of one mind and to help each other, and in the parallel their minds are to be on all that is good, while considering one another’s praiseworthiness. In ‘c’ they are to doubly rejoice in the Lord, and in the parallel they are to rely wholly on Him, avoiding anxiety by keeping in close touch with Him. Centrally in ‘d’ they are to live remembering that that ‘the Lord is at hand’.

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Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honourable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are winsome (of good report); if there be any excellence, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’

And all this will be maintained continually as they set their minds on what is good, righteous, true and pure. The true Christian does not allow his mind and heart to wander after what is unsuitable and displeasing to God. He rather concentrates his thoughts on what is true (genuine through and through - Proverbs 22:21 LXX John 7:18), and honourable (highly thought of morally - Proverbs 15:26 LXX), and just (right according to God’s Law - as often in Proverbs; a word regularly used by Jesus of ‘the righteous’), and pure (chaste, innocent and morally upright - Proverbs 15:26; Proverbs 20:9; Proverbs 21:8 LXX James 3:17), and lovely (delightful and spiritually desirable, spiritually and morally attractive, especially in speech - Sirach 4:7 a; Sirach 20:13) and winsome (the winsomeness that results from ‘speaking well of others’ i.e. is ‘well speaking, a giver of good report about others’, consider Proverbs 15:26; Proverbs 16:24 for the idea), all this rather like the teacher of wisdom in Proverbs who sought to turn men’s minds from what was base, but above all, like Jesus Christ Himself. While Paul may well have called on the ideas of current ethical wisdom for some of the terminology, for much of it was current at the time, the whole concept is transformed for Paul on the basis of the finest teaching of the Old Testament and Jewish tradition, and of the teaching of Jesus. He has in mind the walk of the truly righteous man, ‘the way of holiness’ (Isaiah 35:8). He is not urging that they follow the path of the moral philosopher, but rather urging that they walk in accordance with Old Testament precepts, and that they walk as Jesus walked, Who was the perfect exemplar of all such ideas.

Similarly today, whatever the Christian reads, whatever he watches on TV, whatever he talks about, should all be determined by what he knows will please his Father. He should not be doing anything that he would not want to be caught doing if the Lord comes unexpectedly at such a time as he does not expect. Indeed if there is anything that is ‘morally excellent’ (Isaiah 43:21 LXX 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:5), or if there is anything that is ‘worthy of praise’, he is to think on these things. For he is to be a light shining among men as one who is blameless, and who causes no harm (Philippians 2:15). Thus he does not ask, ‘how can I find enjoyment or benefit for myself?’ He rather asks, ‘what can I do that will please the Lord?’, often in terms of ‘what would Jesus do in my place?’, and ‘how can I encourage my brothers and sister in Christ’. His whole concern is for others.

The idea behind ‘continually thinking’ is that the Christian continually sets his mind on such good things and continually keeps good things and good thoughts in view. Such an attitude almost becomes second nature to him as he prays and reads God’s word, and seeks first God’s Kingly Rule (Matthew 6:33). But he must never become complacemt. Anything that will mar the picture, or that he would not want Jesus to catch him doing, he must deliberately turn his back on. His one aim must be to please the Master.

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Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

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.

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary


Php . Whatsoever things are true.—The apostle recognises the ability of the renewed mind to discern truth under any guise. "Ye have an unction from the Holy One and know all things" (1Jn 2:20). Honest.—A.V. margin, "venerable." R.V. text, "honourable." R.V. margin, "reverend." This variety shows the difficulty of finding an exact equivalent for the word of St. Paul, in which the sense of gravity and dignity, and of these as inviting reverence, is combined. Just.—Answering to that which is normally right (Cremer). Pure.—As there is no impurity like fleshly impurity, defiling body and spirit, so the word "pure" expresses freedom from these (Trench). It denotes chastity in every part of life (Calvin). Lovely.—Christian morality as that which is ethically beautiful is pre-eminently worthy to be loved. "Nihil est amabilius virtute," says Cicero. Of good report.—R.V. margin, "gracious." Lightfoot says "fair-speaking" and so "winning, attractive." Meyer says, "that which, when named, sounds significant of happiness, e.g. brave, honest, honourable." If there be any virtue.—The New Testament is frugal of the word which is in such constant use in the heathen moralists. If they sought to make man self-confident, it seeks to shatter that confidence. The noblest manliness is godliness. Think on these things.—They are things to be reckoned with by every man sooner or later—occupy the thoughts with them now.

Php . Those things … do.—Here speaks the same man, with a mind conscious of its own rectitude, who could say, "I have lived in all good conscience before God unto this day." He had not only "allured" his Philippian converts "to brighter worlds," but had "led the way." The God of peace shall be with you.—Note the phrase in connection with "the peace of God shall mount guard" (Php 4:7).


The Science of Christian Ethics—

I. Demands the study of every genuine virtue.—"Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, … think on these things" (Php ). In regard to what is honourable, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, there is a true and a false standard, and for this reason the apostle here places the true at the beginning, that when the following exhortations are presented, this fact which our experience so often discloses may at once occur to the Christian, and he may be led to examine himself and see whether he also is everywhere seeking for the true (Schleiermacher). Genuine virtue has its root in genuine religion. The modern school of ethics, which professes to teaches morality as something apart from spiritual Christianity, is a return to the exploded theories of pagan moralists, an attempt to dress up pre-Christian philosophy in a nineteenth-century garb. The morality that is lovely and of good report is Christian morality—the practical, livable ethics of the New Testament. The ethical terms used in this verse are closely united. The true, the becoming, the right, and the pure are elements of virtue or moral excellence, and when exhibited in practical life are lovely and worthy of all praise. The charm of the Christian character is not the cultivation of one virtue that overshadows all the rest, but the harmonious blending of all the virtues in the unity of the Christian life. Christian ethics should be earnestly studied, not as matters of mere speculation, but because of their supreme importance and utility in the moral conduct of every-day life.

II. Requires the translation of high moral principles into practical life.—"Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do" (Php ). It is one thing to ponder, admire, and applaud morality; it is another thing to practise it. The apostle not only taught Christian ethics, but practised them, and could point to his own example as worthy of imitation; it was not, "Do as I say," but, "Do as I do." Christian morality is of little value as a mere creed of ethics; its true power is seen in changing, elevating, and refining the life. We have all to lament there is such a wide chasm between theory and practice. Theory may be learned in a brief period; practice is the work of a lifetime. The theory of music may be rapidly apprehended, but the mastery of any one instrument, such as the violin or organ, demands patient and incessant practice. It means detail-work, plod, perseverance, genius. So is it with every virtue of Christian ethics. Theory and practice should go together; the one helps the other; practice more clearly defines theory, and theory more fully apprehended stimulates practice. It is the practice of Christian morality that preaches to the world a gospel that it cannot fail to understand and that is doing so much to renovate it. Lord Bolingbroke, an avowed infidel, declared: "No religion ever appeared in the world whose tendency was so much directed to promote the peace and happiness of mankind as the Christian religion. The gospel of Christ is one continued lesson of the strictest morality, of justice, benevolence, and universal charity. Supposing Christianity to be a human invention, it is the most amiable and successful invention that ever was imposed on mankind for their good."

III. Links practical morality with the promise of divine blessing.—"And the God of peace shall be with you" (Php ). The upright man—the man who is striving to shape and mould his life on the ethics of the New Testament—shall not only enjoy peace, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, but the God of peace shall be with him and in him. True religion, in healthy activity, gives, and can alone give, a restfulness of spirit such as the troubles of life are impotent to disturb. The two vital elements of true religion are communion with God and the diligent cultivation of practical holiness—conformity to the will of God in all things. Pray and bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, and the God of peace shall be with you, preserving you from unrest and harm. The peace of God is also an active principle, gentle and noiseless in its activity, which will help the soul to grow in ethical symmetry and beauty.


1. The gospel is the foundation of the highest ethics.

2. No system of morality is trustworthy that does not lead to holy practice.

3. God helps the man who is honestly striving to live up to his light.


Php . Mercantile Virtues without Christianity.

I. What a man of mercantile honour has.—He has an attribute of character which is in itself pure, lovely, honourable, and of good report. He has a natural principle of integrity, and under its impulse he may be carried forward to such fine exhibitions of himself as are worthy of all admiration. It is very noble when the simple utterance of his word carries as much security along with it, as if he had accompanied that utterance by the signatures, the securities, and the legal obligations which are required of other men. All the glories of British policy and British valour are far eclipsed by the moral splendour which British faith has thrown over the name and the character of our nation. There is no denying the extended prevalence of a principle of integrity in the commercial world.

II. What a man of mercantile honour has not.—He may not have one duteous feeling of reverence which points upward to God. He may not have one wish or one anticipation which points forward to eternity. He may not have any sense of dependence on the Being who sustains him, and who gave him his very principle of honour as part of that interior furniture which He has put into his bosom. He is a man of integrity, and yet he is a man of ungodliness. This natural virtue, when disjoined from a sense of God, is of no religious estimation whatever; nor will it lead to any religious blessing, either in time or in eternity.—T. Chalmers.

Php . Paul as an Example to Believers.

I. He was distinguished by his decision of character in all that relates to religion.—Constitutionally ardent; zealous as a Pharisee. From the day of his conversion he never faltered, notwithstanding his privations, his dangers, his sufferings. Be decided.

II. By his care about the culture of the divine life in his own soul.—The student may desire to know the truth rather than to feel its power. The preacher may be more solicitous about the power of the truth over others than over himself. He never lost sight of the interests of his own soul.

III. By his devotional habits.—One would rather be the author of his prayers than of his sermons. The difference between his prayers as a Pharisee and as a Christian. The subject, the spirit, the style of his prayers as a Christian. Be careful. Be not soon shaken in mind or troubled by speculations about the philosophy of prayer.

IV. By his spirituality and heavenly mindedness.—He did not show any interest in the class of worldly objects that might have been expected to interest a man of his order of mind. He was absorbed in "spiritual things." The second coming of Christ had a prominent place in his thoughts. "That day." Cultivate a habitual superiority to the things of time and sense. Seek the things that are above.

V. By his patient submission to the dispensations of divine providence.—Rare amount of suffering. Strong feeling, unmurmuring submission. Patient, meek, contented. All from Christian principle. Be resigned.

VI. By his laborious usefulness.—Sketch his career. Be useful.—G. Brooks.

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

(8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (9) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

What a beautiful train of exhortation is here given to the Church, as the blessed, and sure consequences to all that went before. And what a train of the most gracious effects flow from the doctrines of grace, when received into the soul, and acted upon, by the blessed influences of God the Holy Ghost? Who will venture to charge the doctrines of grace, as leading to licentiousness? when, in fact, they are the only real check to the corrupt passions of men, to keep from it. When a child of God is truly, and savingly called by grace, and regenerated by the Holy Ghost; then, and not before, is he brought into a capability of showing the faith of the Gospel, by his life and conversation. Make the tree good (said Jesus) and his fruit, good. Matthew 12:33. And it is one of the first, and leading principles of the Gospel, that a change of heart must take place, before the child of God can bring forth fruit unto God. Reader! if you know anything of a work of grace having passed upon your own foul, you cannot but know this. And that scripture is fully confirmed in your own experience. If ye by the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. No man can mortify the deeds of the body any other way. Romans 8:13; Psalms 22:29.

Hence it should be observed, that these exhortations from the Holy Ghost, are given to the Church, and to the Church only. To exhort the unregenerated to things that are true, things honest, or just, or pure; would be like bidding the Ethiopian to change his skin, or the leopard his spots. Some there are, indeed, that are mighty fond of this general address, of exhortations to good, and invitations to come to Christ, and offers to take Christ, being made to the carnal world, to allure them, as they call it, to faith, and repentance. But this they do, because they know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God. They are ignorant of the plague of their own heart, or they would not so reason. They place more stress upon the power, and ability of the creature, to turn himself to God, than either the word of God, (or their own experience, if they attended to it more,) warrants. Hence, they call upon the world at large, and exhort them to good works. They make offers of Christ to such, in direct contradiction to Scripture: and, instead of inviting, as Jesus did, the weary and heavy laden only; and as his servants were commanded to do, the thirsty; they invite all. Reader! I beseech you for a moment to consider this subject, and, if the Lord be your teacher, you will soon discover the fallacy of it; and learn, that such men are guided by the pride and vanity of their own heart, (as if they possessed the power of persuasion,) and are not taught of God.

And, first. Let the Reader look over the whole volume of Scripture, in both Testaments, and he will discover, that all the exhortations, like those of Paul to the Church of the Philippians, are confined to the people of God. There is not a word of exhortation given to the nations among whom Israel sojourned, in the Egyptians, Amalekites, Moabites, Babylonians, or in short, any of the people of the earth. On the contrary, the Lord declared, that his people were a special people, to be everlastingly separated from them. And, as it was in the Old Testament dispensation; so is it under the New. Invitations to come to Christ, And exhortations to follow Christ, are addressed only to the Church. Paul's exhortation in this place begins, finally brethren. And all his Epistles, are to the faithful in Christ Jesus, and the called to be saints. See Philippians 1:1-2. and Commentary, And to such, in whose minds Christ the Spirit hath wrought a saving conversion; those exhortations sent by the Spirit, are made blessed by the Spirit, and his grace enables them to obey them.

Secondly. As exhortations for adorning the doctrines of God our Savior in all things, are addressed but to the called in Christ Jesus: so, the promises of grace for power to perform them, are given to no other. All the promises of God in Christ Jesus, are yea, and Amen. All is your's, saith the Apostle, if ye be Christ's. But upon no other terms, is there a promise given. Cast out the bond-woman and her son, is the language of the Holy Ghost: for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23; Galatians 4:22. to the end. Upon what grounds can men make offers of Christ to the world at large, in the face of these scriptures? It is like holding money to the view of a prisoner looking through his iron window on those passing by; but holding it out beyond all possibility of his reaching it.

Thirdly. As exhortations to follow Christ, and invitations to come to Christ, are wholly confined to the people of God: so offers of grace, are never found in the word of God as given to any other. When the Apostles, after the descent of the Holy Ghost, were ordained to the ministry; their first sermon was wholly to this amount. There were multitudes of Jerusalem-sinners, which heard their preaching; but, while they preached as the Lord Jesus had commanded them, Christ to all the world; offers of Christ were made only to his people. The discriminating feature is strongly marked in their sermons. The promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off; even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Acts 2:39. And when Paul, under the same ordination, preached at Antioch, his words were these: Men and Brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among ye feareth God: to you is the word of this salvation sent. And what was the result of this preaching? This scripture records. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed. As many as were ordained to it; whether of the stock of Abraham, or of the Gentile Church, in whose hearts God had put his fear, believed. While the multitude of unbelieving Jews, contradicted, and blasphemed. Ac 13 throughout. Galatians 3:14 to the end.

I expect that great opposition will be made to this statement, if it so happens, that my Poor Man's Commentary should fall under the eye of any of the Pharisaical characters I have been alluding to. But these things affect me, not. Those evidences I have brought, are sound, and scriptural. To show such men, that the powers of persuasion they think they possess, are more sound without meaning, as to do by them, as by the idols of Micah: taking away their gods, and what have they more? Judges 18:24.

But, say they, did not Christ give command, that the Gospel should be preached to every creature? To which, I answer, with holy joy and thankfulness: Yes! praises to his name, he hath. And, by the preaching of his everlasting Gospel, he hath in numberless instances, gathered to himself, as he said he would, his sheep which are scattered abroad. And here is the blessedness of it. Wherever his sheep are, to whom he sends his Gospel; he gives a blessing to the Gospel sent, in causing his sheep to hear his voice. John 10:27. And we know, and from Scripture authority, that the same Gospel preached by the same Preacher hath the different effect according to our Lord's statement. Paul, when making manifest the knowledge of Christ in every place, was a sweet savor of Christ in them that were saved! and a sweet savor in them that perished. 2 Corinthians 2:14, to the end. Yea, when Christ himself was the Preacher, there were multitudes whom the Lord said, could not hear his word. John 8:42-43. Were offers, of grace made to such? Can any man seriously believe, that Jesus invited them?

If men would, or could, read their Bibles under God the Spirit's teaching, they would soon discover, the mighty difference, between preaching the Gospel, and inviting men to Christ, or making offers of Christ, whom God invites not, and to whom no offers are made. Preaching the Gospel, or preaching Christ, which is one and the same, is to be done to the mixed multitude, as the Apostles did. And the reason is given in the divine word. Because the children of God are scattered abroad. And, where the Lord sends his word, we may safely conclude, the Lord hath children to gather from among them, by his word; and he will own, and bless it to them. But we nowhere read, that the Apostles made offers of Christ, but where, as discerners of spirits, 1 Corinthians 12:10. they saw, that those before whom they preached, had faith to be healed. See a beautiful instance: Acts 14:8-10. It is indeed, the province of men, when ordained by the Holy Ghost, to lift up Christ, as Moses lifted up the Serpent in the Wilderness. And men, truly ordained by the Holy Ghost, will do so. But they will go no further. Moses himself went no further. He lifted up the serpent, as a type of Christ: but we read of no offers, no invitations, no persuasions. These are the special gifts of God, and not man. Hence, Paul, after strongly reprobating false preachers, cried out: for do I now persuade men, or God: or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Galatians 1:9; Gal_6:18.

Reader! ponder well the subject; for it is highly important. If seen would, or could discern, between preaching Christ, which, as I said before, if truly ordained by the Holy Ghost, they are directed to do; and offering Christ, which is little short of blasphemy to attempt: they would shudder at the latter, and go forth with the deepest humility, and not fleshly pride, to the former. And yet, so little apprehensive are some of these self-taught men, of the vast difference, in the work; that they not only offer Christ without reserve, to all they meet, both in their preachings, and writings; but they urge their hearers, or readers; to an instant accepting, and to lay hold of the present opportunity, lest another should not be afforded them. If the subject was not so truly solemn as it is, one might be tempted to smile, at such ignorance, and presumption. As if their persuasion, and not God's grace, was the cause of acceptance. And as if that grace depended upon the will of man, to improve it, in the moment of man's offer, or it would be lost forever. Oh! what a different statement the Lord the Spirit gives, of those, who received Christ which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13. See Colossians 3:12. and Commentary.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

People's New Testament

Finally, brethren. As he concludes his letter, he sums up Christian duties into a single paragraph.

Whatsoever things are true. Truth in word, in action, and in thought, must be cherished. Christ is THE TRUTH. His followers must be truth itself.

Honest. The Greek is "reverend." Whatever is worthy of reverence.

Just. Strict justice in all dealings; an upright life.

Pure. Chaste lives and clean hearts and thoughts.

Lovely. Such deeds as spring from love and inspire love in others.

Of good report. A life of which no evil thing can be truthfully said.

If there be any virtue. Lest he may have omitted some excellency he adds, "If there be aught else which is virtuous or praiseworthy, let these all be the things to which you give your minds."

The things which, etc. He turns from precept to example, the best of all teachers, and enjoins that they observe not only what he had taught, but what they had seen in his life.

The God of peace shall be with you. For he is with all who so live.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "People's New Testament". 1891.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Philippians 4:8-9. Finally το λοιπον, as for what remains for me to say, it may be despatched in a few words. The apostle, says Macknight, “being anxious to make the Philippians virtuous, mentions, in this exhortation, all the different foundations on which virtue had been placed, to show that it does not rest on any of these singly, but on them all jointly; and that its amiableness and obligation result from” whatsoever things are true — Conformable to truth; honest σεμνα, grave, or venerable; just — Equitable and righteous; pure — Chaste and holy; lovely προσφιλη, amiable, or, as the word may be rendered, friendly and kind; of good report ευφημα, of good fame, or reputable; if there be any virtue — Any real worth, or beneficial tendency, in any quality or action: in this place alone does St. Paul use the word αρετη, rendered virtue: if there be any praise — Justly resulting from any thing. Bengelius gives a somewhat different view of the contents of this verse, thus: “Here are eight particulars placed in two four-fold rows; the former containing their duty, the latter the commendation of it. The first word in the former row answers the first in the latter; the second word the second; and so on: true — In speech; honest — In actions; just — With regard to others; pure — With regard to yourselves; lovely — And what more lovely than truth? of good report — As is honesty, even when it is not practised. If there be any virtue — And all virtues are contained in justice; if there be any praise — In those things which relate rather to ourselves than to our neighbour; think on these things — That ye may both practise them yourselves, and recommend them to others.” Those things which ye have learned — As catechumens; and received — By continual instructions; and heard and seen — In my life and conversation; these do, and the God of peace shall be with you — Not only the peace of God, but God himself, the fountain of peace.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

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.

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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 4:8". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Philippians 4:8

When the Apostle wrote these words, he was filled with the best of all loves. These grand words were almost the last outpouring of the fulness of the Apostle's love. Everybody knows them; everybody admires them; everybody is conscious of an undefined pleasure in them.

I. Observe that all the good and holy things of the text purify. St. Paul does not say, Do them, but what is far more: "Think on them." The word means literally, Take them into your mouths; dwell on them; imbue your very spirit with them; for there is life in them when fostered in the inner life of which the outer life is only a reflection. Every mind must have its thoughts, and every thought must have its food. Thought dies without food. Some men think too abstractedly; some men think much of the evils which they wish to avoid; that is vainness: the thought may take the bad character even from the wrong thing, which it is the object of that very thought to destroy. It is far safer, it is far better, and far more effective to think of the true, the holy, and the good.

II. The more you meditate upon the truth, the honesty, and the justice which regulate the sacred transactions between Heaven and man—that is, the more you see the Cross of Christ as the great embodiment of the mind of God and contemplate the highest truth as it is exhibited there—the more prepared you will be to go on to take a proper estimate of what is to be "the true, the honest, and the just" in the relations and dealings of the present life. Whenever you can form this lofty conception of the inner and beautiful principle, your standard will be very high, and you will be better able to take measure of the circumstances of life. He will always make the best prophet the eye of whose mind is the most familiar with a Divine and prompt obedience.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 1874, p. 151.

I. We can all appreciate the importance of being able to guide and control our thoughts; we can all understand that it must be a serious thing to have lost or not to possess the power of doing so. And who has not known by experience something of the evil effects of thinking of the opposite things to those which St. Paul here recommends? St. Paul bids the Philippians entertain one kind of guests within, and by inference exclude or expel another. And which of us does not feel that there is wisdom in this caution? A man who lives much amongst the evil things of human nature, even if professional or other duty requires it of him, can seldom preserve unsullied the purity of his Christian feeling. And if such be the effect of an acquaintance with things hateful and impure in those who approach them at the call of business or duty, how must it be with those who live amongst them by choice? There are those who gloat upon the records of vice or crime, and find in them an attraction and fascination which is wanting in things lovely and of good report.

II. St. Paul's charge has a depth of wisdom and a wholesomeness of counsel scarcely noticed perhaps on its surface. We ought to cherish only such thoughts concerning others as are lovely and of good report; we ought to dwell by choice only upon virtues. The charge presupposes a power over the thoughts. And thus we are led to a serious reflection upon the importance of turning our faith to account in the work of regulating and disciplining thought. Of ourselves we can neither think nor do one good thing; but if the Gospel be true, we can think as well as do all things through Christ who strengtheneth us. Let us pray to God to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit.

C. J. Vaughan, Lectures on Philippians, p. 295.

References: Philippians 4:8.—F. W. Farrar, Everyday Christian Life, p. 46; T. M. Herbert, Sketches of Sermons, p. 158; W. B. Pope, Sermons, p. 213; Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 200; Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 115; R. M. Stewart, Ibid., vol. xix., p. 121; H. W. Beecher, Ibid., vol. xxvii., p. 148; J. G. Rogers, Ibid., vol. xxviii., p. 28; Ibid., p. 295; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. vii., p. 289. Philippians 4:9.—W. G. Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxx., p. 277; S. Martin, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 219; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 382.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Philippians 4:8. Finally, brethren. He lingers in the conclusion as though the writing of his letter in some degree soothed his longing for them.

whatsoever things are true. Not merely in words only, but in thoughts and actions.

whatsoever things are honourable. Such as make men esteemed and revered by those with whom they live.

whatsoever things are just. Actions upright in all respects, whether concerning ourselves or others.

whatsoever things are pure. Unspotted chasteness in the whole behaviour.

whatsoever things are lovely. Which win favour from those among whom they are done; which gather men friends.

whatsoever things are of good report. Well spoken of among men, and so bringing a good name.

if there be any virtue. He adds this, that he may leave nothing out of his enumeration, ‘whatever virtue there be.’

and if there be any praise. The praise is a consequence of the virtue. He does not intend that the Philippians should follow after all that the carnal world might praise, but only what is praised because it is virtuous.

think on these things. The word is not, as will be seen from the notes, the common word for ‘think,’ but indicates the making up of a reckoning. He has been giving them a long list of virtues as constituents of the Christian character, and the employment of this word may have been suggested by the thought that they must add virtue after virtue, and so try to make the reckoning as complete as they could. Count up these things, he would say, for yourselves, and as you do so, try to cultivate the whole.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Precepts for the guidance of the Christian Life, 8,9.

With much emphasis of language, St. Paul urges on the Philippians that they be mindful of the various virtues which mark the Christian character, and carry out all that he has taught them either by word or example, and thus shall the God of peace dwell with them.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Philippians 4:8. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

THE scope and tendency of Christianity is to ennoble the mind of man, and to restore him to his primitive dignity. If we could frame to ourselves a just idea of what Adam was, when he came out of his Maker’s hands, we should see exactly the spirit and conduct to which we are to be reduced by the Gospel. The doctrines of our holy religion, excellent as they are, are of no value any further than they produce this blessed effect. They point out the way in which this change is to be wrought, and supply the only motives that can operate upon us with sufficient weight. In this view they are invariably proposed by the inspired writers, who, having stated them in their epistles, always call our attention to the practical improvement of them.

In the exhortation before us we may notice,

I. The extent of a Christian’s duty—

We are at no loss to arrange the particular duties that are here enjoined, since the Apostle himself distributes them into classes:

1. Things “virtuous”—

[Among these “truth” is the first in nature and importance; since, without it, all the bands of society would be dissolved: there would be no such thing as confidence between man and man. Of such consequence is this esteemed in the world, that no virtues, however eminent, can supply the want of it, or render a man respectable, that is regardless of it. And so necessary is it in the eyes of God, that he will banish from him with abhorrence all who wilfully violate its dictates [Note: Proverbs 6:16-17. Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15.], and admit those only to his presence whose adherence to it is strict and uniform [Note: Psalms 15:2.]. This therefore is in the first place to be rigidly adhered to, especially by those who are members of Christ’s mystical body [Note: Ephesians 4:25.]. It is not indeed necessary, nor would it be proper, on every occasion, to declare all we know: but we must on no account affirm, or insinuate, what is contrary to truth, either with a view to set off or to exculpate ourselves, or for the purpose of criminating or exalting another. Every species and degree of falsehood should be scrupulously avoided; and every word we utter should bear the stamp of simplicity and godly sincerity.

Next to this, and inseparably connected with it, is “justice” A Christian is to know but one rule of conduct: he is, in all his intercourse with men, to do as he would be done unto; that is, to act towards others, as he, in a change of circumstances, would think it right for them to act towards him. To be guilty of fraud in a way of traffic, or in withholding just debts, or in evading taxes, or putting off base coin, or in any other way whatever, is as inconsistent with the Christian character as adultery or murder. Whatever specious pretexts an ungodly world have invented for the justifying of fraud, no one of us approves of it when it is exercised towards himself; nor will God ever approve of it, however men may extenuate or excuse it: his word to every one of us is, “That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live [Note: Deuteronomy 16:20.].” And “he knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished [Note: 2 Peter 2:9].”

Besides these virtues which have respect to our words and actions, there is one that extends to our very thoughts, and that is no less necessary to be cultivated by us than either of the foregoing, namely, “purity” None are so ignorant as not to know, that they ought to restrain their passions, and have them in subjection. But it is not sufficient for a Christian to refrain from open acts of uncleanness; he must learn to mortify his inward desires: he is to “keep his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lusts of concupiscence, like those who know not God [Note: 1 Thessalonians 4:4-5.].” He is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and is therefore bound to harbour no thought that may defile that temple, no desire that may grieve his Divine inhabitants [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19.]. In all his words, and looks, and thoughts, he should “be pure as God is pure, and holy as God is holy [Note: 1 John 3:3 and 1 Peter 1:14-16.].”]

2. Things “praise-worthy”—

[The fore-mentioned duties are so essential to the Christian character, that any considerable and habitual violation of them is utterly inconsistent with it. There are other duties equally necessary to be observed, but which, from the weakness of our nature, and the imperfection of our attainments, admit of greater deviations without impeaching our sincerity before God.

Amongst these, the things which are “honest,” that is, grave, venerable, decorous, first demand our attention. A Christian should consider what becomes his age and station as a man, and his character as a disciple of Christ. It is disgusting, when people professing godliness, whether men or women, are vying with an ungodly world in dress, and show, and vain parade; in a levity of conduct; in a fondness for vain amusements. There is a gravity that befits the “man of God,” who has engaged to walk in his Redeemer’s steps. Not that he need to banish mirth, if it be innocent in its nature, and moderate in its degree: nor need the person of opulence to accommodate himself to the habits of a peasant in his style of living: but there is a moderation that he should carefully observe, a limit suited to his character, a bound which he should in no wise transgress [Note: Compare Ephesians 5:4. 1 Timothy 2:9-10. 1 Peter 3:2-4.].

Whatever things are “lovely,” are also highly deserving the Christian’s regard. There is a courtesy, a meekness, a gentleness, an affability, a modesty, in a word, an urbanity of manners, which is exceeding amiable, and which conciliates the esteem of all who behold it; this, in opposition to rudeness, and an inattention to the feelings of others, should be cultivated by all. A readiness also to sympathise with others in their distress, and to condescend to the meanest offices for their comfort and relief, and a delight in performing all the offices of love, how lovely does this appear, how worthy the pursuit of all that would honour God! To this also may be added a candour in judging, a patience in enduring, a tenderness in forgiving, a liberality in bestowing; an assemblage of such graces as these is the brightest ornament of a child of God; and, as we all admire them when exemplified in others, we should make it our daily study to illustrate them in our own conduct.

Further still, there are many things that are “of good report,” in which also it should be our ambition to excel. A noble disinterestedness of mind, that rises superior to all selfish considerations, and consults the public good, is an attainment which the heathens themselves accounted most truly honourable. With this we may rank a nobleness in the ends which we seek to accomplish, a wisdom in the means whereby we labour to effect our purpose, a discretion in the manner of employing those means, a due consideration of all circumstances of time and place, a willingness to yield in things indifferent, and a firmness in maintaining what we consider to be right and necessary; a happy combination of these will not fail to exalt a character in the eyes of men, and to procure us respect from those who know how to appreciate such rare endowments. These therefore, with whatever else ensures to men a reputation for magnanimity, or goodness of heart, (provided it be good and proper in itself) we should pursue with ardour, and practise with constancy.]

Passing over many other excellencies, such as diligence, contentment, friendship, gratitude, with numberless others to which the Christian’s duty extends, let us proceed to notice,

II. The importance of it—

The manner in which the Apostle inculcates these things, very strongly marks his sense, at least, of their importance. His distinct enumeration of so many things, his comprehending of them all a second time under the extensive description of things virtuous and laudable; and lastly, the energetic manner in which he recommends them to our attention and regard, all prove, that he was extremely solicitous to impress our minds with a sense of our duty, and to secure to his exhortation the attention it deserves.

Let us then consider how important the observance of our duty in these respects is,

1. To ourselves—

[We have no better test of our sincerity before God than this. Our having embraced new tenets, however just those tenets may be, will not prove that our hearts are right with God: nor will an outward reformation of our conduct suffice to establish our pretensions to true conversion; there must be an uniformity and consistency in our endeavours to serve God: there must be no virtues so small, as to seem unworthy of our attention, or so great, as to discourage us in the pursuit of them. We must never think we have attained any thing, as long as there remains any thing which we have not attained [Note: Philippians 3:12-15.].

There is nothing that can more conduce to our present happiness than this. Self-government, next to the immediate enjoyment of the Divine presence, is the sublimest source of happiness in this world. Let any thing that comes under the description before mentioned, be considered in all its bearings and effects, and it will be found highly conducive to the comfort of our own minds, and to the happiness of all around us. Abstracted from the consideration of any future recompence, “the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of rightousness is quietness and assurance for ever [Note: Isaiah 32:17.].”

Moreover it tends to increase in our souls a meetness for heaven. By virtuous actions we attain virtuous habits; and by virtuous habits a conformity to God’s image: and our conformity to God in holiness is that which alone constitutes our meetness for glory. Should we not therefore be endeavouring daily to get every lineament of the Divine image engraven on our souls? Should not the hope of growing up into Christ’s likeness be an incentive to continual and increased exertions in the way of duty? Need we, or can we have, any greater stimulus than this?]

2. To the Church—

[By this alone can we silence the objections of her adversaries. In every age the adversaries have vented their calumnies against the Church, as though all her members were hypocrites, and their seeming piety were a cloak, for some hidden abominations. They have also represented her doctrines as visionary and enthusiastic, yea, as calculated to subvert the foundations of morality, and to open the floodgates of licentiousness. But when they see a holy and consistent conduct, the joint effect of piety and wisdom, they are constrained to shut their mouths, and to confess that God is with us of a truth [Note: 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 2:15; 1 Peter 3:16.].

By this also do all her members contribute greatly to their mutual edification and endearment. It is with Christ’s mystical body as it is with our natural bodies: when every member performs its proper office, and supplies its proper nutriment, all the parts are kept in activity and vigour, and the whole is confirmed and strengthened [Note: Ephesians 4:11-13; Ephesians 4:15-16; Ephesians 4:29.]. Let any of the graces before mentioned be neglected, and disunion will proportionably ensue. Moreover, those members that are most defective in their duty, will most discover a consequent languor and decay. Whereas, the members that are indefatigable in the exercise of these graces, will “make their profiting to appear,” and be enabled to withstand the assaults of all their enemies [Note: 2 Peter 1:5-11.]. The former will be a source of trouble and disquietude to the Church; the latter, of harmony and peace.]

3. To the world around us—

[There is nothing else so likely to fix conviction on the minds of sinners. The ungodly world will not learn religion from the Bible; nor will listen to it as enforced in the discourses of God’s faithful ministers. But they cannot shut their eyes against the light of a holy life. St. Paul’s epistles are known and read of few: but godly men are “the epistles of Christ, known and read of all men [Note: 2 Corinthians 3:2-3.]:” and many who would not regard the written word, have been won by their godly conversation [Note: 1 Peter 3:1-2.].

On the other hand, there is nothing that hardens sinners so much as an inconsistent conduct in the professors of religion. If a saint fall through temptation, or a hypocrite discover his hypocrisy; instantly the world cry out, “There, there, so would we have it [Note: Psalms 35:19; Psalms 35:25.].” Nor are they satisfied with condemning the individual offenders; they immediately reflect on the whole body of Christians, as hypocrites alike: yea, and blaspheme that adorable Saviour whose religion they profess [Note: 2 Peter 2:2. Romans 2:24. 1 Timothy 6:1.]. Thus do they confirm their prejudices against the truth, and justify themselves in their rejection of the Gospel. If then the rescuing of our fellow-creatures from perdition, or the contributing to involve them in it, be so connected with our conduct, of what importance must it be so to demean ourselves, that we may adorn our holy profession, and recommend the Gospel to their favourable acceptance!]


[“Think then upon these things.” Think of their nature, that you may be apprised of their extent: think of their obligation, that you may be aware of their importance: think of their difficulty, that you may obtain help from your God: think of their excellency, that you may be stirred up to abound in them: and think of their complicated effects on the world around you, that you may make your light to shine before men, and that others, beholding it, may glorify your Father that is in heaven [Note: Matthew 5:16.].] [Note: Instead of this application, the following may be profitably used:—

1. For the humbling of your souls—2. For the endearing of the Gospel to you—3. And for the regulating of your whole spirit and conduct.

1. For the humbling of your souls—

[Whence is it that there is so little humiliation and contrition amongst us? it is because we do not try ourselves by a just standard. We look only to more flagrant transgressions; and therefore even the worst of us only view ourselves like the sky in a cloudy night, when only a few stars are seen and at great intervals; but if we would take the text for the ground of our estimate, the very best of us would see ourselves like the sky in the clearest night studded with stars innumerable, our whole lives being, as it were, one continuous mass of transgression and sin — — — If we would habituate ourselves to such reviews of our conduct from day to day, we should find no difficulty in acknowledging ourselves “less than the least of all saints,” yea, and “the very chief of sinners.”]

2. For the endearing of the Gospel to you—

[O how precious would the Saviour be to you, if you saw yourselves in your true colours! And with what delight would you plunge into “the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness!” But the same false estimate of ourselves which keeps us from humiliation, keeps us also from valuing the Gospel of Christ. If we would love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, we should get a deeper sense of our need of him, and of the love he has shewn us in giving himself to die for us.

It is in this way also that we must learn to prize the influences of the Holy Spirit. When we see what a holy and refined character that of the true Christian is, we shall necessarily say, “Who is sufficient for these things?” And, feeling our need of Divine help, we shall implore of God to “strengthen us with might by his Spirit in the inner man,” and to “perfect his own strength in our weakness” — — —]

3. For the regulating of your whole spirit and conduct—

[Whilst you see what a lovely character the Christian is, and how bright it shone in our blessed Lord, you will strive to follow his steps, and to “walk as he walked.” Let there then be in you nothing but what is virtuous and praise-worthy. And, if you profess to have been “called with an holy calling,” see that you “walk worthy of your high calling,” or rather, walk worthy of him that hath called you; that so God may be glorified in you, and you be rendered meet for his heavenly inheritance — — —]]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Philippians 4:1. Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

It is a great joy to a minister, as it was to the apostle Paul, to have converts; but that joy is greatly diminished when they do not stand fast: then, indeed, every supposed joy becomes a sorrow, and instead of the roses which yield a sweet perfume to the Lord’s servant, thorns begin to prick and wound his heart.

Philippians 4:2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

Only two women, and we do not know who they were; yet Paul gives them a “beseech” each: “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.” If there are only two of the most obscure sisters in the church who are quarrelling, their differences ought to be brought to an end at once. There should be no disagreements amongst Christians, love should reign, peace should predominate. If there is anything contrary to such a state as that, God grant that it may soon be brought to an end!

Philippians 4:3. And I entreat thee also, true yoke fellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life.

Brother, do all the good you can to help everybody else to do good. Help those whose names are in the book of life, even if they are not known anywhere else. Also help the “Clement” whose name is known; be sure to help him; indeed, help everybody. There is an office, in the Church of Christ, which we do not sufficiently recognize; but which ought to be abundantly filled. Paul mentions it in writing to the Corinthians. He says, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” It is the office of certain Christians to be “helps.” May we always have many such “helps” amongst us! Did you ever notice that, almost every time that Bartholomew is mentioned in Scripture, we read, “and Bartholomew”? He is never spoken of alone; but it is written, “Philip, and Bartholomew,” or “Bartholomew, and Matthew.” It is good to have some Bartholomews who are always helping somebody else, so that, when there is any good work to be done, Bartholomew is always ready to share in it; for he shall also have a part in the reward at the last.

Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

The very word “rejoice,” seems to imply a reduplication; it is joy, and re-joy, joy over again; but here, you see, it is a fourfold rejoicing; joy, and re-joy; and again I say, joy, and re-joy; and this is to be the Christian’s continual experience, for the apostle says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

Philippians 4:5-6. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Have no care, but much prayer. Prayer is the cure for care. If you are in trouble, “Let your requests be made known,” not to your neighbors, but “unto God.”

Philippians 4:7-8. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Be on the side of everything that is good and right, everything that helps on true human progress, everything that increases virtue and purity. As a Christian man, take an interest in everything that helps to make men true, honest, just, pure, and lovely.

Philippians 4:9. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you.

May the Lord fulfill that gracious word to all of us, “The God of peace shall be with you”! Amen.

This exposition consisted of readings from 1 John 4 and Philippians 4:1-9.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

This Epistle was written by Paul when he was in prison, with iron fetters about his wrists; yet there is no iron in the Epistle. It is full of light, life,

love, and joy, blended with traces of sorrow, yet with a holy delight that rises above his grief.

Philippians 4:1. Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

See how the heart of the apostle is at work; his emotions are not dried up by his personal griefs. He takes a delight in his friends at Philippi; he has a lively recollection of the time when he and Silas were shut up in prison there, and that same night baptized the jailor and his household, and formed the church at Philippi.

Philippians 4:2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

These two good women had fallen out with one another. Paul loves them so much that he would not have any strife in the church to mar its harmony; and he therefore beseeches both of these good women to end their quarrel, and to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” You cannot tell what hurt may come to a church through two members being at enmity against each other. They may be unknown persons, they may be Christian women, but they can work no end of mischief; and therefore it is a most desirable thing that they should speedily come together again in peace and unity.

Philippians 4:3. And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life.

He tenderly thinks of all those who had helped the work of the Lord, and, in return, he would have all of them helped, and kindly remembered, and affectionately cherished. May we always have this tender feeling towards one another, especially towards those who work for the Lord with us! May we ever delight in cheering those who serve our Lord!

Philippians 4:4-5. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

We have come to understand this word “moderation” in a sense not at all intended here. The best translation would probably be “forbearance.” Do not get angry with anybody; do not begin to get fiery and impetuous: be forbearing, for the Lord is at hand. You cannot tell how soon he may appear; there is no time to spare for the indulgence of anger; be quiet; be patient; and if there be anything very wrong, well, leave it. Our Lord Jesus will come very soon; therefore be not impatient.

Philippians 4:6. Be careful —

That is, be anxious —

Philippians 4:6. For nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

See how the apostle would bid us throw anxiety to the winds; let us try to do so. You cannot turn one hair white or black, fret as you may. You cannot add a cubit to your stature, be you as anxious as you please. It will be for your own advantage, and it will be for God’s glory, for you to shake off the anxieties which else might overshadow your spirit. Be anxious about nothing, but prayerful about everything, and be thankful about everything as well. Is not that a beautiful trait in Paul’s character? He is a prisoner at Rome, and likely soon to die; yet he mingles thanksgiving with his supplication, and asks others to do the same. We have always something for which to thank God, therefore let us also obey the apostolic injunction.

Philippians 4:7-8. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

If there is any really good movement in the world, help it, you Christian people. If it is not purely and absolutely religious, yet if it tends to the benefit of your fellow-men, if it promotes honesty, justice, purity, take care that you are on that side, and do all you can to help it forward.

Philippians 4:9. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:

Paul was a grand preacher to be able to say that; to hold up his own example, as well as his own teaching, as a thing which the people might safely follow.

Philippians 4:9. And the God of peace shall be with you.

In the seventh verse, we had the expression, “the peace of God.” In this ninth verse, we have the mention of “the God of peace.” May we first enjoy the peace of God, and then be helped by the Spirit of God to get into a still higher region, where we shall be more fully acquainted with the God of peace!

Philippians 4:10. But · rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

“I rejoiced.” So Paul was himself in a happy mood; these saints in Philippi had sent to him in prison a gift by the hand of one of their pastors, and Paul, in his deep poverty, had been much comforted by their kind thoughtfulness about him.

Philippians 4:11. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

That was not an easy lesson to learn, especially when one of those states meant being in prison at Rome. If he was ever in the Mamertine, those of us who have been in that dungeon would confess that it would take a deal of grace to make us content to be there; and if he was shut up in the prison of the Palatine hill, in the barracks near the morass, it was, to say the least, not a desirable place to be in. A soldier chained to your hand day and night, however good a fellow he may be, does not always make the most delightful company for you, nor you for him; and it takes some time to learn to be content with such a companion; but, says Paul, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Philippians 4:12. I know both how to be abused, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

These are both hard lessons to learn; I do not know which is the more difficult of the two. Probably it is easier to know how to go down than to know how to go up. How many Christians have I seen grandly glorifying God in sickness and poverty when they have come down in the world; and ah! how often have I seen other Christians dishonouring God when they have grown rich, or when they have risen to a position of influence among their fellow-men! These two lessons grace alone can fully teach us.

Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

What a gracious attainment! There is no boasting in this declaration; Paul only spoke what was literally the truth.

Philippians 4:14-15. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

The Philippians were the only Christians who had sent any help to this great sufferer for Christ’s sake in the time of his need.

Philippians 4:16-18. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

I do not suppose that they sent him very much; but he knew the love that prompted the gift, he understood what they meant by it. I always had a fancy that Lydia was the first to suggest that kind deed. She, the first convert of the Philippian church, thought of Paul, I doubt not, and said to the other believers, “Let us take care of him as far as we can. See how he spends his whole life in the Master’s service, and now he may at last die in prison for want of even common necessaries; let us send him a present to Rome.” How grateful is the apostle for that gift of love! What gladness they had put into his heart! Now he says: —

Philippians 4:19. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

“You have supplied my need out of your poverty; my God shall supply all your need out of his riches. Your greatest need shall not exceed the liberality of his supplies.”

Philippians 4:20-21. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus.

The religion of Christ is full of courtesy, and it is full of generous thoughtfulness. I do not think that he can be a Christian who has no knowledge nor care about his fellow church-members.

Philippians 4:21. The brethren which are with me greet you.

They saw that he was writing a letter, and they therefore said, “Send our love to the Philippians.”

Philippians 4:22. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.

Only think of saints in the household of Nero, saints in the service of such a demon as he was, and saints who were first in every good thing: “Chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.”

Philippians 4:23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Philippians 4:8". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

The Biblical Illustrator

Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord alway

Three elements of Christian character

The keynote of the Epistle and of Christian life is cheerfulness. The repetition here, and the enforcement of the same in other Epistles shows us the importance of this duty.

1. If the Philippians neglected or undervalued this duty they have many imitators today. Some professing Christians set their faces against it, and make the best of days the saddest, the best of books the most forbidding, and the best of services the least inviting. Those who take their cue from these, come to regard sourness and sanctity as synonymous. This is a gross and dishonouring perversion of that which was heralded with notes of joy.

2. It is “in the Lord” that we are to be glad. Christ has brought the materials out of which gladness is made--new and happier thoughts, power, purposes, hopes.

3. The advantages are manifold.

(a) Cheerfulness brings us within the charmed circle of the noblest and brightest spirits. Without this we can never enter into the rapture of psalmists and prophets.

(b) The perception of cheerfulness nourishes the very cheerfulness it sees. The sun not only reveals and makes the beauty and fragrance of the flower.

4. We are to rejoice alway, which teaches us to cultivate the habit of looking on the bright side, of always being on the look out for compensation, of considering the purposes of difficulties, the lessons of adversity, the Sender of sorrows.

II. Forbearance.

1. In what does this show itself.

2. The powerful motive: “the Lord is at hand.”

III. Devout trustfulness.

1. In arguing this (verse 7), the apostle does not teach us to have no care and let everything drift, but not to be full of care. Whilst we are ordering our affairs with discretion, we must not be over anxious. The Lord is at hand. His Providence will be equal to all emergencies. Do your best, and leave the issue to Him.

2. Let prayer be your antidote to worry. God knows what is best. Submit to His will, thankful for His many mercies. Gratitude is a condition of successful prayer

3. The grand issue--the peace of God.

(a) God-like.

(b) Transcending every effort of the mind to grasp it.

Christ’s nearness

I. A fact stated. “The Lord is at hand,” may apply either to time or place. He is coming, and till He comes to wipe away our tears, to raise our dead, and fill us with glory, He is, in the meantime, our solace in trials, conflicts, difficulty and danger, our light in darkness, and our triumph in death. We greatly wrong Him to conceive of Him as above the stars. He is very nigh His people, the shade on their right hand. Let us therefore walk circumspectly, and let nothing cast us down. Let also our enemies beware.

II. The command grounded on the facts.

1. “Rejoice in the Lord alway.”

2. “Let your moderation,” etc. When the eye has once seen, the ear heard, the heart occupied with Christ, all other matters take a subordinate position. The attractions of the world are nothing, its anxieties are lost in the comfort of His love, and its entanglements cannot keep us from resting in His bosom. Sit, then, loosely to the things around you. Let men see that you have a better portion, and know by your forbearance, gentleness, and moderation, that the things that once occupied you are now quite secondary. What matter if other things fade from your grasp, if the presence of the Lord is realized in your soul.

3. “Be careful for nothing.”

4. “In everything by prayer,” etc. He is beside you, and you rob yourself of a great privilege if you keep back anything. Pour out your heart, only “with thanksgiving.” Don’t murmur. Thank Him for what He has done, is doing, and will do.

III. The precious promise, which is conditional on the keeping of the commands. “The peace of God,” etc.! Christ has made peace with God.

2. This peace must be apprehended and enjoyed (Romans 15:13; 1 Peter 1:8). It can only be enjoyed by faith, and it must be maintained by a consistent walk.

3. This peace will keep us from sinking, from sinning, it will keep us calm amidst disturbance, at rest amidst restlessness, tranquil in anticipation of death and judgment. (Marcus Rainsford.)

Spiritual mindedness

There is a natural world, and there is a spiritual world. It is folly to ignore either. True wisdom lies in adequately acknowledging the claims of each, and skilfully adjusting their relations to each other. A man may be so engrossed by the natural, as to live as if there were no spiritual world, and vice versa In the one case he becomes a materialist; in the other, a mystic. We are now in this world, and have duties here which religion must help us to discharge. But there is a spiritual world, and nothing gives such elevation of character, and such power and consistency of living, as a sense of its real presence. The spiritually-minded have ever been the pioneers of human progress. Paul did not disparage the life that now is; he rather exalted it by constantly bringing upon it the power of the life to come. In the text he represents the effect of a spiritual faith on this human life. The key to the whole is, “The Lord is at hand.” There are four characteristics of spiritual mindedness as thus understood.

I. It will surprise materialists that the first is Joy--the delightful enjoyment of the feelings of pleasure at good gained and actually enjoyed, or at the prospect of good which one has a reasonable hope of obtaining.

1. The natural world can give joy.

2. But the great defect in all joy that is not “in the Lord” is that it is transitory. Youth, health, success, are good while they last, but they last so short a time.

3. Our faith does not offer us a choice as between natural and spiritual joy. On the contrary, the sources of natural joy are intensified by our spiritual joys, and placed upon a more enduring basis. Would not (let conscience speak) your natural joys be trebly sweet if you did not feel that if these were swept away there would be nothing left? If you did but “rejoice in the Lord” all of earth that is sweet and beautiful would be more so. To the spiritually-minded “the Lord is at hand” to help every human joy.

II. To be spiritually-minded is to have habits of honesty in business, of candour, good temper and forgiveness, for that is the meaning of moderation.

1. This is a provoking world, full of things which create disagreeable feelings. The weariness and tricks of others make us shut up ourselves and become uncandid, and cynical, and hard. Life becomes a game. We must not show our hands. The wicked will take advantage of it, and we shall lose.

2. Well, if this natural life be all there is, we cannot afford to be candid and good-tempered toward all men. But a spiritually-minded man can so afford, “The Lord is at hand” to help him. Put Him away, saying that each man must care for himself only, and if you fail, no matter the failure; if you succeed, how barren the success.

3. Whether you will or not “the Lord is at hand.” He sees all in the light of the spiritual world, and judges accordingly. He is at hand to help. The factory operative, the merchant, the capitalist, may all have a sense of His nearness, and if they have, then their moderation, fairness, self-control, and forgiveness will be known unto all men.

III. Elevation of soul--a serenity of temper over which the changes of life may pass as Storms do over a mountain, loosing here and there a stone, breaking here and there a tree, shaking the whole mass and drenching it, but leaving the mountain rooted in the earth.

1. Much of our life is frittered away with carking cares and anxieties. These came from too close a look at things which are temporal. This nearness must be corrected by spiritual mindedness. To a man who has no feeling of the Lord’s nearness every trouble exaggerates itself. He cannot put his full powers to any one thing, because he is troubled about many things.

2. Right spiritual-mindedness does not unfit us for the duties of life. Faith does not teach carelessness. It is the care that distracts which must be avoided. That is only avoided as a man comes to feel that the Lord stands by Him. That realized, he can attend to his multifarious duties without distraction. He has then a powerful motive to do his best, and that being done, he calmly leaves what he cannot do.

IV. Devoutness--a sense of the presence of One who takes an interest in our lives, and to whom we can speak specifically about everything that concerns us, and therefore concerns Him, and from whom we can get direction and help. In conclusion, when we are spiritually-minded God’s peace--

1. Keeps our hearts steady and true when temptations and troubles and bereavements seem bearing them away.

2. Our minds. No mind loses its balance as long as it perceives the Lord at hand to help.

3. Through Jesus Christ, the connecting link. (C. J. Deems, D. D.)


The gospel takes hold of every string in human nature. The beginner only plays on the central octaves of the pianoforte, while the master hand makes the seven octaves discourse music in their turn. Joy is soul elation, or the feeling of extreme pleasure. There are certain conditions when that string is touched by the hand of truth.

I. The joy of conversion. Relief from the burden of sin, and finding the pearl of great price. After Philip explained the matter, the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. No one can contemplate the fact that Christ is slain for His sins, and is risen for His justification, without experiencing a sense of happiness (Acts 8:27-40). See also the account of the conversion of the Philippian jailer, and Lydia. Joy from a sense of safety is not the highest type, but very real.

II. The joy of Christian fellowship. When friends meet, there is a reciprocal feeling of esteem (Acts 2:40-47). Two old Peninsula veterans accidentally met after a separation of twenty years. Words could not depict the beaming faces. It was the joy of esteem. Whenever the apostles met their brethren there was joy: Paul, the prisoner, was full of happiness in anticipating to see the Philippians again.

III. The joy of service. God loves a cheerful giver. There was great joy when David collected the funds for the building of the Temple (1 Chronicles 29:9). Greater still was the joy of the redeemed in building the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 12:43). God must be served with gladness.

IV. The joy of prosperity. The Christian has no prosperity apart from the kingdom of Christ (Luke 15:10). The father made a feast because the lost had been found. The visit of Philip to Samaria was blessed abundantly. “There was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:8). The gospel is “good tidings of great joy to all people.” The more souls are saved the more the joy of the Church (Luke 10:1-42)

V. The joy of special revelation. There are moments of supreme happiness given to all good people, such as the time of the Transfiguration. The happiest moment in the life of the Christian is the last, when the servant is dismissed his present service in peace, and advancing towards the crown. One word of caution--see that the right motive produces joy. There are superficial influences of a charming nature, but without depth or worth. “Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience.” When conscience says, rejoice, we are safe. It is a joy that will continue evermore. (Weekly Pulpit.)

Christian joy

I. What does this precept mean?

1. Joy, like every other simple emotion, cannot be defined; it must be felt to be known. The text enforces that form of joy which we should call habitual cheerfulness as--

2. The text requires that cheerfulness should be habitual.

3. The precept directs us to derive our habitual cheerfulness from the Lord. No creature was ever happy in itself separated from God. You must not, therefore, try to get it from yourself.

This is the lesson continually put before us in the Bible. “My people have committed two evils.” “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord.”

II. By what may this precept be enforced?

1. Habitual religious cheerfulness is a personal advantage.

2. It is a strong qualification for rendering service to others. It is of little use trying to instruct, especially in religion, even a child, unless you are cheerful. And certainly a man is no use in the sick chamber, or in the house of bereavement, unless he has a cheerful heart.

3. If a Christian cannot rejoice always no man can.

4. For this the Christian has the largest possible provision. He has been born again, is a son of God and joint heir with Christ. It is quite true that Christians are soldiers and that the fight is hard, but victory is sure; they are racers and the running is exhausting, but the crown is sure; they are pilgrims and the journey is wearisome, but the arrival at home is sure; so that the soldier, racer, pilgrim, may rejoice alway.

5. The precept is enforced by Divine authority, by the example and word of Christ.


1. When you are inclined to despondency, investigate the cause. “Why art thou cast down?”

2. When in circumstances that are grievous call before you all that is joyous and hopeful. How strange it is that people who have never had a real trouble are always grumbling.

3. Never lose sight of the fountain of gladness.

4. Avoid vain and foolish anticipations of evil. (S. Martin.)

The Christian’s joy

This joy is--

I. Intellectual.

1. The reason has its moments of inexpressible delight. “Why do you sit up so late at night?” was asked of an eminent mathematician. “To enjoy myself.” “How? I thought you spent your time in working out problems.” “So I do, and there is the enjoyment. Those persons lose a form of enjoyment too keen to be described who do not know what it is to recognize after long effort and various failures, the true relation which exists between two mathematical formulae.” We may be strangers to this form of enjoyment, but we may know enough of other subjects to believe its reality. All knowledge is delightful to the human mind because it involves contact with fact, and this contact is welcome to the mind because the mind is made for God the Truth of truths, in whom as manifested in His Son are “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

2. In our day this delight is especially observable in the study of nature. The “scientific spirit” is almost concentrated upon this study, and it deserves a warm welcome from Christians; for if revelation is God’s second book, nature is His first.

3. And if the contact of mind with reality has thus a charm all its own, what should not be the delight of steadily contemplating God as He presents Himself to us in His revelation. There the Being, the perfection, the life of God, are spread out before us like a boundless ocean, that we may rejoice in Him always as the only, the perfect satisfaction of our intellectual nature.

4. But alas! while this is the case, a new plant in your botanical gardens, a newly discovered animal in your menageries, an octopus in your aquariums, will send a thrill of delight through those who claim to represent the most active thought of the day, and all the while the Being of beings, with all the magnificent array of His attractive and awful attributes is around you. How much of the mental life you bestow so ungrudgingly on His creatures is given to Him! O intelligence of man, that was made for something higher than any created thing, understand, before it is too late, thy magnificent destiny and rejoice in the Lord.

II. Moral.

1. It is the active, satisfied experience of a moral nature, a coming in contact with the uncreated and perfect moral Being. Joy has much more to do with the affections than with the reason. It is the play of the affections upon an object which responds to them and satisfies them. To the man of family, his wife and children call out and sustain this delight, which the ordinary occupations of his intellect rarely stimulate. And little as he may think it, on that threshold, beside that cradle, the man stands face to face with the attributes of the everlasting Being who has infused His tenderness and His love into the works of His hands.

2. God’s attributes of holiness, justice, mercy, may well delight the human mind, but they address themselves inevitably to our moral nature. As we gaze on God the holy, we turn our eyes on ourselves, and ask “If He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity what does He see in me?” Between that uncreated beauty and our enfeebled, broken nature, we know that some dark shadow has passed, and yet light enough is left to enable us to see how little we are like Him. Man, conscious of this radical flaw hides himself from the Lord God and a deep gloom takes possession of him. He would fain bury himself in amusement or work--anyhow--in self-forgetfulness--anywhere out of the sight of God.

3. The work of our Saviour has made it again possible to rejoice in God. Christ has destroyed the discord between our conscience and His holiness. His graces establishes a union between the believing soul and its object. “We are accepted in the beloved.” Read Romans 5:1-11 and see what are the consequences of this new relation to God.


1. Our power of rejoicing in the Lord is a fair test of our moral condition. The heart that does not “break forth into joy” at the mention of His name is surely paralyzed or dead. If earthly friends, pleasures, etc., rouse in us keen sensations of delight, and this name which is above every name, this love which transcends earthly affections, finds and leaves us cold and unconcerned, be sure that it cannot be well with us.

2. This power of rejoicing is the Christian’s main support under the trials of life. St. Paul after saying that we rejoice in hope of the glory of God adds, “not only so but we glory in tribulations.”

3. This power is one of the great motive forces of the Christian life. Within the regenerate soul it is a well of water springing up into everlasting life, fertilizing everything--thought, feeling, resolution, worship: it gives a new impulse to what before was passive or dead, and makes outward efforts and inward graces possible, which else had been undreamt of. (Canon Liddon.)

Joy a duty

Joy drives out discord. Our text follows as a remedy upon disagreement (verses 1-2). Joy helps against the trials of life. Hence it is mentioned as a preparation for the rest of faith (verse 6).

I. The grace commanded--“Rejoice.”

1. It is delightful: our soul’s jubilee has come when joy enters.

2. It is demonstrative: it is more than peace: it sparkles, shines, sings. Why should it not? Joy is a bird; let it fly in the open heavens, and its music be heard of all men.

3. It is stimulating, and urges its possessor to brave deeds.

4. It is influential for good. Sinners are attracted to Jesus by the joy of saints. More flies are caught by a spoonful of honey than by a barrel of vinegar.

5. It is contagious. Others are gladdened by our rejoicing.

6. It is commanded. It is not left optional. It is commanded because

II. The joy discriminated.

1. As to the sphere--“In the Lord.” That is the sacred circle wherein the Christian’s life should always be spent.

2. As to the object.

(a) temporals, personal, political, pecuniary.

(b) Nor in special privileges, which involve greater responsibility.

(c) Nor even in religious successes (Luke 10:20).

(d) Nor in self and its doings (Philippians 3:3).

III. The time appointed--“Always.”

1. When you cannot rejoice in any other, rejoice in God.

2. When you can rejoice in other things, sanctify all with joy in God.

3. When you have not before rejoiced, begin at once.

4. When you have long rejoiced, do not cease for a moment.

5. When others are with you, lead them in this direction.

6. When you are alone, enjoy to the full this rejoicing.

IV. The emphasis laid on the command--“Again I say, Rejoice.” Paul repeats his exhortation.

1. To show his love to them. He is intensely anxious that they should share his joy.

2. To suggest the difficulty of continual joy. He twice commands, because we are slow to obey.

3. To assert the possibility of it. After second thoughts, he feels that he may fitly repeat the exhortation.

4. To impress the importance of the duty. Whatever else you forget, remember this: Be sure to rejoice.

5. To allow of special personal testimony. “Again I say, rejoice.” Paul rejoiced. He was habitually a happy man. This Epistle to the Philippians is peculiarly joyous. Let us look it through.

Conclusion: To all our friends let us use this as a blessing: “Rejoice in the Lord.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The duty of rejoicing

I. There are some precepts of Scripture which we may have difficulty in performing, but which, at least, we have the power of attempting. Such, e.g., as to forsake a bad habit or to undertake a certain course of action. But there are others which seem to enjoin what is beyond our power, e.g., those which demand a particular aspect of mind, whatever may be our feelings, such as our text. It seems strange that joy should be a duty. Unless there be cause for it, how can we have the power? Well, we may surely reckon up our occasions for sorrow and joy, and if the latter preponderate we might, at least, be ashamed of being unhappy, and that is a great preparation for a thankful state of mind. When a man is downcast, he is often raised by a friend who points out that things are not so bad as he thinks. And the Christian has reasons for joy which far outweigh reasons for sorrow. Count up then your mercies. Adjust yourselves to the breathings of God’s Spirit. If you cannot call forth the melody which slumbers in the heart, you can awaken the breeze of its music.

II. Joyfulness is as much within our power as honesty and industry. It is not as though it were only a question of natural disposition, etc. One great purpose of religion is to furnish us with motives and aids to correct our natural temperament, and to bring into play moral forces to counteract those which are opposite to good. Is not the Christian entitled to discharge all his cares on God’s providence; lay his sins on God’s Son; and his fears on God’s promises? Has he an excuse then for being disquieted.

III. Some Christians regard joy as permitted but not as commanded, a privilege, not a duty. Had this been so numbers would have wanted it; but as God has enjoined it all must strive after it, and that for many reasons. The believer is asked to state what is religion. If he fails to rejoice he brings disgrace upon it, for he is disobedient. And here is the triumph of infidelity; and the inquirer after religion is deterred when he sees in its professors, how it defers the happiness of which he is in search.

IV. As joy is a command which proceeds from God’s mouth, so it may be kept by God’s grace. We are bidden to rejoice “in the Lord.” Whatever be the attribute contemplated there is reason for gladness even in the holiness which condemns our sin. For did not that very holiness provide a means whereby the sinner might be honourably and eternally forgiven. If there be nothing in God in which we may not rejoice, it is evident that there is nothing in the universe.

V. The redeemer is a model for the Christian in this as in every other virtue. He who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross says, “Ask and ye shall receive that your joy may be full.”

VI. Half the depression of Christians arises from looking at and into themselves. Even when looking at Christ for righteousness, they look to themselves for comfort. It is Christ’s hold on the believer that makes him safe. Rejoice, then, in the Lord. (H. Melvill, B. D.)

Christians joyful in the Lord

As sorrow is attendant on sin, so is joy the companion of holiness. Joy is a feeling of pleasure caused by the remembrance of some past, the possession of some present, or the hope of some future good.

I. The Christian looks back on the past. Then sin on his own part is seen side by side with love upon God’s. He thinks with sorrow of his sinfulness, but remembers the forbearance which withheld the Almighty hand, the goodness that led to repentance and the grace that saved, and so rejoices in the Lord.

II. The present gives the same cause for rejoicing. There is much to abase and arouse painful feelings, but in the prayer which brings fresh supplies of strength, in the grace which is all-sufficient, in the promises, and in the work of faith and labour of love there is abundant cause for joy.

III. The future presents a joyful outlook. The extinction of sin, the removal of all hindrances to holiness, the full blessedness of body and soul in heaven. (Canon Chamneys.)

Constant joy in God the duty of Christians

I. What is implied in this duty.

1. That Christians are pleased that God exists. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Man in a state of nature dreads God. Naturally wishful of independence he dislikes the idea of one above him who can dispose of him according to His pleasure. But in Christians this enmity has been slain.

2. That they are pleased that He exists possessed of all Divine perfections. They could not rejoice in Him were it possible for Him to make a mistake or use any deception.

3. That they are pleased that He formed the most wise, just, and benevolent designs from eternity.

4. That they rejoice in His constant execution of His original designs. “The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice.”

II. The propriety of this duty. No one questions the duty of rejoicing sometimes; but how always? Is there not a time to weep? Thousands of things are the proper objects of mourning. Yes; but the text says: “Rejoice in the Lord.” In Him there is no ground for mourning. And even mourning over evil things admits of an element of joy, inasmuch as they are ever working out His plans. We mourn over our afflictions, yet we may rejoice in God, inasmuch as a patient may rejoice in the skill of the surgeon while he bewails the pain of amputation.

III. The reasons for this duty. We are to rejoice because--

1. God always knows what is best to do with all His creatures. He is the only wise God.

2. He is always immutably disposed to do what is best. As a father feels towards his children the Father of mercies feels towards His whole family. The fountain of all good is in its own nature a just cause of rejoicing apart from the thousand streams of goodness which flow from it.

3. He is absolutely able to do what is best. If there were a single case of inability it would wreck our confidence in Him.

4. If, then, He knows what is best, is disposed to do what is best, and able to do it, He certainly always will do it.


1. To rejoice in God always is the most difficult duty Christians have to perform. It is easy to rejoice in favours; but how about trials.

2. To discharge this duty is to do what is most pleasing to God, implying as it does the purest faith, love, and obedience.

3. To do this is to do peculiar honour to religion. Mere selfishness will dispose men to rejoice when they receive good at the hand of God.

4. Those who obey this precept are the happiest men in the world. Men of the world are in some measure happy, but their rejoicing is often interrupted.

5. To neglect this precept is unwise, sinful, and injurious. (N. Emmons, D. D.)

Christian rejoicing

I. What it is.

1. It is more than contentment. To be content is not to murmur, not to wish for a better lot; to rejoice is to be right glad, and to be persuaded that we have got the best we could expect.

2. Can this be the duty of the disciples of the “Man of Sorrows”? Undoubtedly a true Christian is serious, and often sad (Psalms 119:136; 2 Corinthians 7:7); and therefore has no part in such mirth and revelry as flows from thoughtlessness and intemperance.

3. But it does not follow that he may not be truly happy--only his rejoicing is in the spirit, “in the Lord.” And to thus rejoice must be computable with sorrow for sin and self-denial; yet for all this it may be a real, lively, and lasting satisfaction (1 Peter 1:8; Romans 8:8; Matthew 17:4).

II. When it may be felt.

1. In prosperity; especially if we have set our hearts on God’s good gifts of grace. But it consists not in the goods we enjoy, but in those we hope for; not in the pleasures we experience, but in the promise of those which seeing not we believe. Riches may abound, but we know they are of no value compared to those in heaven; health may flourish, but what is that compared with life for evermore; friends and families may grow up and multiply the joy of all we have, but these serve only the more to make us glad that we have a Friend who will never fail and a home where with them we may enjoy His blessed company forever.

2. In adversity; which was the condition of those here addressed. Paul repeats his words as though aware that it might seem a hard saying. But the grounds of their rejoicing are yours. For you the same Saviour died; for you there is the same heaven, the same unsearchable riches. Do you believe all this? Then rejoice.

3. In temptation. Whichever way this comes we are prone at first to be sorry, because of our weakness and proneness to fall. Yet James (James 1:2) tells us to rejoice. Why? Because one thus feels sin to be the heaviest of afflictions, which is thus a sign of grace. So St. Peter (1 Peter 4:12-13). Whatever then may be the trials of our faith now we are to rejoice because we shall be glad hereafter when Christ’s glory shall be revealed. Thus may we pray not to be led into it, and yet when brought into it rejoice that by God’s grace we may come out of it triumphant.

4. In death. Nowhere is Christian joy distinguished from worldly satisfactions more than here. For this is the introduction to an eternal consummation.

Rejoicing in Christ

I. In His atonement (Romans 5:11).

II. In His righteousness (Romans 4:1-25).

III. In His faithfulness (Philippians 1:6).

IV. In His power. “Kept by the power of God.”

1. In sorrow.

2. In persecution.

3. In bereavement.

4. In death. (R. J. McGhee, A. M.)

Rejoicing in God

I. God who requires His people to rejoice affords them ample reason for doing so: hence the requirement is reasonable and practicable. The Christian is not required to rejoice in nothing or in an inadequate cause: but in the Lord all-sufficient.

II. There exists equal reason why the Christian should rejoice in God at all times as at any time. The cause is uniform, so should be the effect. If God ceased to be his friend then he might cease to rejoice, but not otherwise (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

III. Joy and sorrow in the same heart and at the same time are perfectly compatible. There may exist contemporaneously reasons for both sorrow and joy. “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” When we are commanded to rejoice always it is not meant that we should rejoice only.

IV. In the case of the Christian the causes of joy always predominate over those of sorrow. Not so with the sinner. A saint may lose a part of his possessions: but the larger part he cannot lose.

V. The very sorrows of the Christian are to be rejoiced in. They work for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” Inferences:

1. If it is our duty to be happy then it is a sin to be miserable.

2. How grossly they misrepresent religion who speak of it as a gloomy thing.

3. We learn what it is that makes the soul happy. Not the world; that is passing away; but the Lord who abides.

4. If God alone can make His creatures happy what madness it is to live in ignorance of Him, or in estrangement from Him. (W. Nevins, D. D.)

Sunshine: a talk for happy times

I. Rejoice in the Lord. At the outset--

1. Don’t think this means--

2. But it is a calm, deep, settled gladness in the Lord.

II. The ingredients of this joy. It is not distilled from rare exotics and delicate plants that grow only in hothouses and cost much to cultivate. There are three simples growing just by the gate of the King’s garden, and whoever will cultivate and mix them shall have this balm.

1. The sturdy plant Confidence--the superlative degree of hope; that in the dark today sings of a bright tomorrow; that does not think or believe that a loving Father orders all things, but rests in the assurance of it.

2. Confidence must be mixed equally with a little lowly plant that grows on the bank of the river--Contentment--a rarer plant than the other. Contentment keeps its desires level with its condition. When much is taken it counts up how much is left, and turns the evil round to find a better face upon it, thinking of the worse that might have been.

3. Put in Gratitude, to enrich it and make it sparkle.

III. But if it be thus easily made why is it so uncommon?

1. There are timid souls who have not the courage to forget themselves.

2. There are the stern, the gloomy, the severe, possibly too selfish to forget themselves, or too exact to forget anything. Hard-natured men of narrow sympathies to whom the brighter things of the world are vanities. Music and children and flowers and holidays have no charms for them. Business, duty, absorbs them. O! it is a pitiful thing when all the child is dead in men.

3. There are those whose religion is mostly a regular observance of services, a half-hearted round of duty. The religion that rejoices in the Lord must have something intense about it. A languid, pale-faced, sickly man who gets up for an hour or two and sits by the fire can’t enjoy anything; he hasn’t vigour enough. Type of dead-alive Christians, whose religion is true enough, but they have not enough of it. They want more warmth and life and heart.

IV. Can Christians afford to live without this joy in the Lord?

1. It is repeatedly commanded. Is he guiltless who passes by the word with light indifference?

2. It is encouraged by every promise and precept. May not the man suspect the religion that is so unlike the Scripture sample?

3. It is the natural fruit of spiritual life: and if the fruit be wanting, the tree is not worth having.

4. Surely we have no business to keep twitting the world about a peace it can neither give nor take away, if all we can tell them is a dismal tale of trials and temptations, failure and sin. This is not what the Bible holds out to us, what Christ purchased for us, and is not likely to fetch home the prodigal from the far country.

V. How may we make this joy our own? Confidence, Contentment, Gratitude, where can we find them? only in the King’s garden.

1. We must go out of ourselves for everything worth having. He who sees self will never see anything but what he may weep over. He who sees the Lord may live always triumphing.

2. The opposite to this joy is not sorrow. The Man of Sorrows was “anointed with the oil of joy above His fellows.”

Amusements in the light of the gospel

The text shows that religion is no killjoy: and yet it is frequently regarded as involving a renunciation of the pleasures of life. To ascertain the relation of piety to amusements is of great importance. Every man has leisure and inclination for amusement. How far may it be indulged? A man is made or marred by the way in which he spends his leisure. A certain amount of amusement is beneficial, but multitudes are ruined by amusement.

I. The extent to which mere amusement is needful and beneficial.

1. The “alway” of the text covers the whole sphere of life but mere amusement can only be an occasional thing, and therefore not the only form of happiness. That must be found also in those experiences, duties, toils, anxieties, and sorrows which constitute the main stream of our daily life.

2. The key to this is “in the Lord.” If God makes us glad we may be always glad. A richer joy may be found in discharging life’s duties and bearing its burdens so as to secure God’s approval than in any amount of amusement.

3. Seeing that it would be a great mistake to seek happiness in amusements which would imperil the proper conduct of life’s more serious business. He who neglects duty for amusement makes a great mistake.

II. What teaching there is in the text respecting the lawfulness of amusements and the main principles to guide us.

1. Rejoicing is a Christian duty. Hence we ought to cultivate it as much as justice, etc.

2. Can cheerfulness be cultivated without paying special attention to the matter? Certainly not: hence the gospel sanctions a certain amount of amusement. Happiness is the outcome of the healthy play of our faculties. Now in the daily stress some of them are sure to be overstrained. Our constitution is like a harp of many strings. To keep it in tune, therefore, we must naturally give the overstrained strings periodic rest, but touch up the others and play upon them: this is amusement, and the text implies its necessity.

3. But what kind of amusement does the gospel sanction?

4. God has placed within the reach of all an infinite amount of ennobling entertainment. In the world around us there is an inexhaustible wealth of beauty, grandeur, and skill whose observation and imitation supply us with abundant entertainment.

5. How is it, then, that we make such a mess of our amusements. We want--

Christian rejoicing

To rejoice is in one sense a happiness, in another a duty. In one sense it is an art: there are those who contrive to rejoice, find food for joy, where others can see nothing but gloom and grief: in another aspect it is an attainment; a result arrived at by long experience, in the latter days of a consistent Christian course. But in every point of view Christian joy can only be found in the Lord; by communion with Him, by close watching, by living much in things above. Compromises with the world drive it away. Sin destroys it in a moment. (Dean Vaughan.)

Afraid of joy

Joy has been considered by Christian people very largely as an exceptional state; whereas sobriety--by which is meant severity of mind or a non-enjoying state of mind--is supposed to be the normal condition. I knew a Roman Catholic priest that was as upright and conscientious a man as ever I met, who said he did not dare to be happy; he was afraid that he should lose his soul if he was; and he subjected himself to every possible mortification, saying, “It is not for me to be happy here, I must take it out when I get to heaven. There I expect to be happy.” That was in accordance with his view of Christianity. (H. W. Beecher.)

The happiness of religion

An infidel was lecturing in a village in the North of England, and at the close he challenged discussion. Who should accept the challenge but an old bent woman in most antiquated attire, who went up to the lecturer and said, “Sir, I have a question to put to you.” “Well, my good woman, what is it?” “Ten years ago,” she said, “I was left a widow with eight children utterly unprovided for, and nothing to call my own but this Bible. By its direction, and looking to God for strength, I have been enabled to feed myself and family. I am now tottering to the grave, but I am perfectly happy, because I look forward to a life of immortality with Jesus in heaven. That is what my religion has done for me. What has your way of thinking done for you?” “Well, my good lady,” rejoined the lecturer, “I don’t want to disturb your comfort; but--” “Oh, that’s not the question,” interposed the woman; “keep to the point, sir. What has your way of thinking done for you?” The infidel endeavoured to shirk the matter again; the feeling of the meeting gave vent to uproarious applause, and he had to go away discomfited by an old woman.

Christian cheerfulness

Of Major Vandeleur, one of the most beautiful characters found among the Christians of the Crimean War, another officer who knew him at Gibraltar said to his biographer, Miss Marsh: “Everybody on the old rock liked Vandeleur, and regretted him when he left us. He was ‘blue’ you know (i.e., religious)
, but then he was such a bright blue! No gay man, I should think, was ever half so cheerful and charming as a companion.” (
J. F. B. Tinling, B. A.)

The oil of joy

Years ago a party on board a pleasure yacht in the United States discovered to their dismay that they were being silently and slowly drawn towards the Falls of Niagara. Skill and energy began at once to cope with the horrible emergency. The furnace was filled and refilled with wood until the fuel at command was entirely exhausted. What was to be done? Dismay showed itself on every face, and despair was paralysing them when a happy thought occurred to an officer. The oil used for the machinery of the steam engine was thrown into the fire. This gave just sufficient impetus for the moving of the vessel out of the strong current into smooth water, and she was saved. “The oil of joy” keeps many a one from being swept over the rapids of temptation. Let us, then, “rejoice in the Lord”--rejoice in His nearness, sufficiency, and immutability. (T. L. Nye.)

The motive for rejoicing

The motive for a repetition of this exhortation lies in the immediately foregoing context. Those “whose names are in the book of life” may well have within their breasts, even now, the sweetness and the calm of their promised bliss. The Saviour’s own express command to His disciples sets this directly before us (Luke 10:20). (J. Hutchison, D. D.)

Uninterrupted Christian joy

If the Christian’s joy be interrupted it ought only to be as the sun’s brightness may be dimmed by a passing cloud, which quickly leaves the firmament as radiant as before. (H. Melvill, B. D.)

Napoleon when sent to Elba, adopted, in proud defiance of his fate, the motto, “Ubicunque felix.” It was not true in his case; but the Christian may be truly “happy everywhere” and always. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Means of Christian joy

If you go into Steinway’s manufactory and strike certain chords of the powerful instruments, the chords of the other instruments, though they are covered up and apparently mute, will sound. Such are the correspondences which exist between them, such is the sympathy which is communicated from one to the other by the air, that when one vibrates, all vibrate. Though the sound be low and almost inaudible, it is there. When the grandeur, beauty, and love of the Divine nature are presented to a man, they draw some response from every part of his nature which corresponds to that which is presented. When the hearts of men are drawn towards the heart of God there begins to be an interplay between them; and thus Christian rejoicing, while only possible, is inevitable, “in the Lord.” (H. W. Beecher.)

The sphere of Christian joy

God has made the human soul, and every instinct of faculty that composes it for Himself. He alone is the key to unlock its varied and mysterious powers, to discover their true range and capacity: and as this is the case with the other emotions so it is with joy. Joy, undoubtedly, that active sense of happiness which caresses the object which provokes it; which seeks some outlet or expression of its buoyancy--joy has an immense field of modified exercise in the sphere of sense and time, and Scripture recognizes this in a hundred ways. “To the counsellors of peace there is joy.” A man hath “joy by the answer of his mouth.” The virgin, in Jeremiah, “rejoices in the dance,” and Isaiah speaks of the “joy of harvest,” and of the “rejoicing” of men after victory “who divide the spoil;” and Solomon observes that “folly is joy to him who is destitute of wisdom;” and James knows of Christians who “rejoice in their boastings, whose rejoicing is evil.” The range of joy is almost as wide as that of human thought and enterprise. Its complete satisfaction is only to be found in God. God is the “exceeding joy” of the Psalmist. God is the one object who can draw out and give play to the soul’s capacity for active happiness; and therefore the Psalmist’s heart “dances for joy,” and his mouth “praiseth God with joyful lips,” and he bids the children of Zion “be joyful in their King;” and he looks out on heathendom, and would have all lands, if it were possible, “make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob;” and he looks out on nature and bids the “field be joyful and all that is in it, and the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord.” This is the language of exuberant delight, and St. Paul is only adopting the expression of the Psalmist, of Israel, of Joel, of Habakkuk, of Zechariah, when he bids the Philippians “rejoice in the Lord.” (Canon Liddon.)

Why Christians are not joyful

Our florists make up packages of seeds labelled “Gorgeous purple,” “Exceedingly beautiful,” “Remarkably fine,” and so on, referring to the flowers. Now let these seeds go into the lands of a clumsy person who has perhaps raised corn and potatoes, but who has never raised flowers; and let him plant them in cold, wet, barren soil, and at an untimely season. A few of them will sprout, and will come slowly up, pale and spindling, and will be neglected, and the weeds will overrun them: and when the time for blossoming comes there will be found here and there a scrawny plant, with one or two stingy blossoms, and men will say. “Now we see the outcome of this pretence. Look at the labels. It is all humbug.” But do you not perceive that the way in which you plant the seed, and the preparation of the soil, and the season have much to do with the successful growth? It is true that beautiful plants might have been produced. They were deserving of all the praise bestowed upon them. There was no deception. They might have been what they were represented, but they are not for want of knowledge, skill, and adaptation of conditions to ends. There may be persons who suppose because Christianity is joy producing that when they become Christians they will be joyful. They suppose that they are to take it as they would nitrous oxide gas, a magnificent Divine intoxicant, and are miserably disappointed when ecstatic effects do not take place. And the reason why there is not more joy in the Church is because you do not know how to plant the seeds and cultivate the flowers. They are real seeds, and the flowers are beautiful, and the plant bears blessed fruit to those who know how to give it proper culture. If you have the faith of Christ and heaven and God near to you; if you so love that all parts of your being are pervaded with a sense of these things; if the affluence of God reaches down to you and you open your soul to let in the consciousness of Christ, you will have joy. “Oh” says one, “I might be joyful if I were not so harassed with care.” “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” There is provision made in Christ for care. “But I have such grief!” “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous” etc. If the earth had sensibility when the spade opened it, it would cry, “Oh! why art thou wounding me?” But in that open earth I drop seed, and cover up again, and by and by the ground is covered with beautiful flowers--does the earth mourn now? God is opening the furrow in you and putting in seeds. It is affliction to you now, but afterward it will produce in you the peaceable fruit of righteousness. (H. W. Beecher.)

No joy in heathenism

The old Greeks and Romans had their pleasures, their glories, their learning, their art, but theirs was not a happy life. There was always a shadow across their path, a skeleton at their feast. They saw the roses which crowned their heads wither and die; they saw the pale messenger, death, knocking with impartial hand at the doors of rich and poor alike. They knew that they grew older, and nearer the grave, and beyond that they knew nothing. There was no hope. They grew weary of the dance and the wine cup; they looked on their painted walls at Rome, or Pompeii, and felt that they cared for them no longer. They had ceased to believe in their cold, passionless gods of wood and stone, who could give them no help, no comfort; they were “without God in the world.” Such was the selfish life of the heathen, without God. No wonder that one day the Roman, who had nothing to live for, nothing to hope for, entered his bath, and opened a vein, and so bled quietly and painlessly to death. This is what a famous Greek poet said about life, that it was best of all not to be born, and the next best thing was to get quit of life as soon as possible. How differently speaks the Christian, “Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice.” (H. J. W. Buxton, M. A.)

No joy in infidelity or worldliness

The infidel cannot be habitually cheerful. Hear Hume say in his treatise on human nature, “I am affrighted and confounded with that forlorn solitude in which I am placed by my philosophy. When I look abroad, I see on every side dispute, contradiction, distraction, When I turn my eyes inward, I find nothing but doubt and ignorance. Where am I and what? From what causes do I derive my existence and to what condition shall I return? I am confounded with this question, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable.” Here you have one of the most philosophic, and, in many respects, one of the best of infidels, making this as his confession. Then, if you turn to the man of poetry and pleasure, Lord Byron says “There is nothing but misery in this world, I think.” This sentence was not written for effect; it was the genuine outpouring of that man’s heart. He had tried everything earthly. He certainly had been to every human and temporal fountain of enjoyment. He had gone through experience like that through which the wise man takes us in the Book of Ecclesiastes, and this is his conclusion--“There is nothing but misery in this world, at least, so I think.” (S. Martin.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Philippians 4:8". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things.
We have here

I. A direction for thought--“Think on these things.”

II. A direction for practice--“These things do.”

III. A promise conditional on obedience to the two--“The God of peace shall be with you.” (Dean Vaughan.)

Christian life

I. Its features.

1. Truth in word, etc.

2. Honour, integrity and purity in conduct.

3. Whatever is beautiful and praiseworthy in behaviour.

II. Its motives. Apostolical.

1. Precept.

2. Example.

III. Its advantages.

1. The presence of the God of peace.

2. The peace He gives. (J. Lyth, D. D.)

The meditation and practice of holiness

A second time we have the conclusion of the whole matter. Before it was “finally, brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” The whole history of conversion with all its preliminary struggles, the terrors and sorrows of repentance, the hopes and fears of faith, finds its issue and rest in this. But here is a second “finally.” There is something beyond the exultation of deliverance through Christ; and that is the attainment of a perfect character in Him. We are urged--

I. To fix our full and determinate thought upon perfection. The word is often used to signify due appreciation, and it bids us here with strong emphasis estimate rightly the place morality holds in the gospel.

1. It was the glory of the apostle’s career to proclaim everywhere that for the sake of the sacrifice of the Cross the vilest transgressors repenting and believing in Jesus were assured of forgiveness and reputed as righteous. But it became the hard necessity of his life to have to defend it against perversion. The enemy everywhere followed him, sowing tares. The abuse which taught men to sin that grace might abound was the subject of his ceaseless protest. In the former part of this Epistle he had dwelt on the worthlessness of all good works as the ground of the sinner’s acceptance: and because he had so utterly disparaged human goodness in the third chapter, he now in the fourth vindicates the claims of Christian godliness. On the way to the Cross think not of any good in yourself; on the way from the Cross think of all the obligations of holiness.

2. For all the provisions of grace have their issue in our moral perfection. Renouncing our own righteousness which is of the law, we are to attain a righteousness of faith, which in another sense must be “our own.” Pardon is the removal of an obstruction to holiness. The grace of God that bringeth salvation teaches us to aspire to all good works.

II. To ponder its unlimited variety of obligations.

1. The apostle exhorts us to train our minds to a high and refined sense of this. It is true that the regenerate are taught of God, and have the Spirit to guide them; but this is not to supersede the use of their own faculties. The Bible shows us “what is good” in its great principles, but leaves us to find out their illimitable application.

2. The object of this study is excellence according to all its standards. “Whatsoever things” suggests that every Christian virtue has its own unlimited field of study. What a boundless field, e.g., is truth.

3. The result of this constant study is the education of the spiritual taste into a high pitch of delicacy. The Christian’s standard of truth, dignity, etc., becomes higher than that of other men. Here lies the secret of the difference between Christian and Christian, between careless professors who are always stumbling themselves, and a cause of offence to others, and the educated disciples who adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour. Receive this exhortation and you will come by degrees so accurate in your moral judgment as never to fail, and be in the best sense, “a law unto yourselves.”

III. To give it the fervent desire of our meditation. The “thinking” signifies that intent contemplation of perfection which feeds the soul’s regenerate longing to attain it.

1. Mark with what exquisite skill the elements of perfection are combined into one lovely whole. We must look steadily at this assemblage of ethical graces until we are enkindled with its loveliness.

2. And as the Christian is exhorted to delight in the thought of perfection as the aggregate of all excellencies, so also he must make every individual principle the object of affectionate contemplation. How beautiful are truth, religious dignity, etc.

3. As the virtues of holiness are displayed in the Word of God, to think of them is to meditate on it. “O how I love Thy law.” To the soul that hungers and thirsts after righteousness, the Bible is an everlasting delight.

4. Moreover, such an insatiate student delights to consider the lives of these who have gone before him in the narrow way--Christ the supreme standard and pattern of the result; Paul and others as examples of the process. Those who, like ourselves, have had to travel through all the stages of the ascent from sin to holiness leave their example for our encouragement. But while we imitate them we must aspire to Him.

IV. To make it our practical concern. Let not thinking end, but turn your meditations to practice.

1. Generally there is to be nothing visionary in our religion. Hence the abrupt “do.” There is a sentimental religion which thinks loftily and talks magniloquently about virtue, but ends there. Our religion must not be a barren homage to the saintly qualities of others. What man has been man may be, by the grace of God, even though the man may have been a Paul.

2. Every scriptural ideal of excellence may be realized in practice. The pagan writers had their noble ideals, but nowhere outside the Bible is there such a consummate standard as this. And then, again, the highest moralists who sate not at the feet of Jesus despaired of their own teaching, imperfect as it was, “unless indeed,” as one said, “God should become incarnate to teach us.” Christianity alone has the golden link between thought and practice.

3. As thinking must not terminate in itself, so practice must be the diligent regulation of our life according to all the principles of holiness. There is a sense, indeed, in which our religion from beginning to end is God’s work; but the formation of Christian character is our own task under His blessing, and its perfection is conferred upon us, not as a gift simply, but as the seal upon our efforts, and their exceeding great reward.

4. We must work out our own salvation by governing our lives according to these holy principles particularly. If we would be perfectly true we must act out the truth in thought, word, and deed; so with dignity, etc.

V. To think of it with the peaceful confidence of hope. There can be no encouragement more mighty than that the God of Peace shall be with us.

1. God will be with us animating our pursuit by the assurance of reconciliation. There is no spirit for the pursuit unless we know that the guilty past is pardoned. The heart must be enlarged if we would run in the way of His commandments; and don’t narrow it and impede your progress by permitted sin.

2. God will be with us crowning our effort. Peace is the full sum of His heavenly blessing. “Great peace have they who love His law.” Others may have a transient joy and superficial excitement. (W. B. Pope, D. D.)

Soul perfection

The finest specimen of a Christian is he in whom all the graces, like the strings of an angel’s harp, are in the most perfect harmony. Therefore, we are to beware of cultivating one grace or attending to any one duty at the expense of others. That is possible; and never more likely to happen than in these days of recoil from mere speculative theology, and of busy, bustling benevolence. Treading in our Master’s steps, we are to go about doing good; yet we may undertake so many works of Christian philanthropy as to trench on the hours that should be sacred to devotion. In seeking the good of others, we may so neglect the cultivation of our own hearts, and the duties we owe to our own families, as to have to cry with the man of old, They made me keeper of vineyards, and mine own vineyard I have not kept. (T. Guthrie, D. D.)

Avoid doubtful things

The atmosphere is sometimes in such a peculiar state that the spectator, on coast or shore, looking abroad over the sea, cannot tell where the water ends and the sky begins; and as if some magician had raised them out of their proper element, and turned their sails into wings, the ships seem floating in mid-air. But occasionally no line of separation is more difficult to draw than that which lies between what is right and what is wrong. Whether such and such a business or amusement, pursuit or pleasure, is wrong, and one, therefore, in which no Christian should engage, is a question that, so far as the thing itself is concerned, may be difficult to answer. But it is not difficult to answer, so far as you are concerned, if you doubt whether it is right. The apostolic rule is, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind;” and unless you are so, then, “what is not of faith is sin”--sin at least to you. (T. Guthrie, D. D.)

St. Paul’s farewell

The words are the parting counsel of the apostle. They come at the most solemn period of his life, and he was writing to the best-loved of the churches. Will he speak of the mysteries he saw and heard? Will he expound some profound doctrine? It is almost with a feeling of disappointment that we find these homely words.

I. Observe the entireness of the apostle’s language. “Whatsoever things.” It has sometimes been supposed that different regions of goodness might be separated from each other; religion from morality; truth from beauty. Paul recognizes no such distinction. He who furthers one truth incidentally furthers all others.

II. Note how all the regions of goodness fit into each other. Paul, trained in Greek learning, would be familiar with the classical debates respecting the true, the beautiful, and the good. The Greek asserted that the supreme object of pursuit was the beautiful. His soul was so enwrapt in sensuous beauty, that he could recognize the good only in it. The highest object of admiration to the Roman was what was just. So some think now that the highest good is only to be found in truth, scientific facts; others in the noble and self-denying; in the romantic aspect of things. Paul discourages no forms of goodness, and would welcome it whether in myth, legend, song, art, nature, domestic life.

III. The true Christian character consists not in the mere absence of evil but in the possession and cultivation of the good. So dwell on “these things” as to make them your own. Your soul was made for them, and in nothing lower can it be happy. Only by thinking on them can their opposites be cast out. Darkness is only to be expelled by light, impurity by holiness, the love of sin by the love of God--in individuals or communities. (R. M. Stewart.)

Christian character

I. Should be complete on every side.

II. Includes everything that is excellent.

III. Requires much study and prayer. (J. Lyth, D. D.)

Christian righteousness

1. The sanctification of men is the true object of redemption (Galatians 1:4; Titus 2:14). For this Christ took our nature, was tempted in all points like as we are, and died. And as His salvation is not a common and earthly good, so the holiness to which He moulds us is not a common and natural perfection, but one singular and supernatural.

2. In these words the apostle opposes his doctrine to that of a false teacher, who insisted upon legal observances, which are much more easy and agreeable than the study of real virtue. He enforces whatsoever things are--

I. True. This comes first, because before all things we shall embrace the Truth as disciples of Him who is “the Truth.” Here should be the foundation of all our conduct. We must consider “things true”--

1. Which are not feigned, or invented to please, but which really subsist.

2. Such as are at the foundation firm and solid, not shadows or figures. Falsehoods of whatever kind are prohibited.

3. All vain and deceitful appearances are excluded. Our manner of life must be plain and simple, purged from the love of the world which, as a shadow, passes away.

II. Venerable--all that relates to the dignity of the high vocation to which God has called us, renouncing all frivolity and folly.

III. Just.

1. What God commands us to render unto men, whether honour, deference, and obedience to our superiors in the state or the family; the guidance and protection of inferiors; friendship and assistance towards equals, or kindness towards all.

2. The laws and duties of the city and society in which we live, save when they conflict with conscience.

IV. Pure. We should be careful not only to preserve our bodies from pollution, but our hearts, tongues, eyes, dress, cultivating modesty, and avoiding every species of dissoluteness.

V. Lovely. Although all virtues are excellent in themselves, yet some are more pleasing than others; even as we see amongst the stars, though all are beautiful, yet some shine with a brighter lustre. Among the virtues, sweetness of mind, courtesy, clemency, willingness to oblige, show with peculiar brightness.

VI. Good report. Among actions which are good, some are held more specially in repute. St. Paul would have us give ourselves to them with especial care, because those who hold them in high esteem will love us better, and yield more readily to our religious influence. VII. That nothing may be omitted, the apostle adds, if there be any virtue or praise. None of these Divine and beautiful flowers must be wanting. Indeed, it is not possible to have one in any degree of perfection without the others. They are sisters so firmly linked together that they cannot be torn asunder. (J. Daille)

The moralities of Christianity

I. What these moralities are.

Whatsoever things are--

I. True.

1. In speech. We must be free from lying. This is when men, with a purpose to deceive, say what is false either by assertion (Acts 5:3) or promise (Proverbs 19:22). Lying is--

2. In actions. We should keep the integrity of a good conscience (Psalms 32:2; 2 Corinthians 1:12). Sincerity and candour should be seen in all we do. Satan assaults you with wiles, but your strength lies in downright honesty (Ephesians 6:14; Isaiah 38:2-3).

2. Honest--grave and venerable, free from scurrility, lightness and vanity in word or deed. Religion is a serious thing, so should they be who profess it (1 Timothy 2:9-10; Titus 2:2).

3. Just. We must give every man his due, and defraud none of his right; whether

4. Peace. Nothing obscene or unchaste should be seen or heard from a Christian (Ephesians 4:29; Ephesians 5:12).

5. Lovely. There are certain things which are not only commanded by God, but are grateful to men, such as affability, peaceableness, usefulness (Romans 45:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Acts 2:46-47).

6. Of good report. There are some things which have no express evil in them, but they are not of good fame (1 Thessalonians 5:22; 1 Peter 2:12).

7. Virtue and praise, two things linked together. Many things in the world are praised which are not virtuous; such things are to be abhorred. But if there be any good thing even among the heathen, religion should be adorned with it.

II. In what manner doth Christianity enforce them.

1. It derives them all from the highest fountain, the Spirit of sanctification, by whom we are fitted for these duties (Ephesians 5:9; Galatians 5:22).

2. It makes them to grow out of proper principles.

3. It directs by the highest rule, God’s mind revealed in His Word, the absolute rule of right and wrong.

4. It aims at the highest end, the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Philippians 1:11; Acts 24:14-16).

III. For what reasons.

1. Because grace does not abolish so much of nature as is good, but refines and sublimates it, by causing us to act from higher principles and to higher ends.

2. Because these conduce to the honour of religion. The credit of religion depends much on the credit of its professors (Ezekiel 36:20-21; 2 Samuel 12:14; 2 Peter 2:2; Titus 2:10).

3. Our peace and safety are concerned in it.

4. These things grow from that internal principle of grace which is planted in our hearts by regeneration (Acts 26:20; Matthew 3:8).

5. All the disorders contrary to these limits and bounds by which our conversations are regulated, are condemned by the righteous law of God which is the rule of the new creature; and therefore they ought to be avoided by the good Christian (Matthew 5:19).

6. These moralities are not small things; the glory of God, the safety of His people, the good of human society, and the evidence of our own sincerity being concerned in them.


1. If religion adopts moralities into its constitution, we must not leave them out of our practice (Titus 3:8). Here is an answer to those who ask wherein must we be holy and obedient. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Expansiveness of Christian life

These words come at the close of a noble delineation of Christian life. It is as if having unfolded tract after tract the vision suddenly expanded, and a sense of the boundlessness of that life came over the apostle, and then under the stress of that feeling he pours the fulness of his soul into one utterance, emphasizing its breadth by the six-fold repetition of “whatsoever things.” As much as to say “all things conceivable, attainable, include them in your view of Christian life.” Christian life is greater than any description of it, and no experience has yet exhausted it.

I. Christ is Lord over the kingdom of truth; there is, therefore, nothing in that kingdom which a Christian may not aspire to possess. Our enemies are surprised at this claim. Because we put the Cross in the centre they fancy there is nothing but the centre.

1. Some deny the originality of Christian truth, and say of some fragments of it, “It is in Seneca or Confucius.” But whatever true things are in any of the wise teachers of the past, we shall not resent their being found anterior to Christ. They were in God before they were in them, and they have their place in the kingdom of truth of which Christ is the King, and of which we are now the heirs.

2. Detractors of another sort have put the stigma on the narrowness of our life. The large, full, free life is that which philosophy, art, science, literature, and travel make possible. But all things here are beforehand in Christ. They may not be classed as yet, but they belong to the kingdom of truth, and therefore to us.

3. Men who say that “It is all over with Christian life. It is an old-world story, a thing past and done. The real life--the life of the future--has its roots in material forces, and in the views, hopes, and aims to which these forces are giving shape.” But whatever is here is part of the heritage of our life.

II. The earliest actings of Christian life were illustrations of this expansiveness.

1. Hardly was its voice heard among men than it began to bring the teaching of the lilies and the birds, and the sunshine and rain into its glad tidings. It no sooner stepped into heathen life than it commended the faith of centurions, Syro-Phoenician women, the endurance of Roman soldiers, and the self-denial of Grecian wrestlers and runners. It went after the waifs and strays of Jewish society.

2. While Christian life denounced the awful abysses that lay in the moral life of heathenism, it accepted whatever was Divine in its civilization. It recognized in it the working of the Divine Spirit, heard its poets preluding the song of Christian brotherhood in the words, “Ye are God’s offspring”; saw the glory of Roman law; and in Greek wisdom questions which God had helped to formulate, and God’s Son had come to answer. It asserted its inheritance in all the virtues of Greek and Roman life, and found an asylum for its slaves.

III. Another illustration of the expansiveness is that it is not presented to us in the New Testament in its developments, but in its germs. It is leaven, seed, a new spiritual force, developing, penetrating, taking possession of, allying itself to all experiences, manners, customs, countries, races.

IV. Look at the expansive character of the Book by which Christian life is fed. The Bible grows in the experience of the individual. It is a greater Book to the man than to the boy. It grows in the experience of the Church. It is not the Bible that changes, but the eyes that pore over it grow wider as they read. Something of this is due, to the fact that it is in the main a book of principles. In their expansion the Bible expands. New circumstances demand new aspects of truth, new applications of principle. And every new application is a discovery of the wealth that remains to be dug out of the Book of God.

V. This has a practical bearing on the attitude of Churches to each other.

1. No one Church, however venerable in age, or fresh with the dew of youth, has a monopoly of the good things of God. Let us covet earnestly each other’s gifts--the fervour of the Wesleyan, the self-dependence of the Congregationalist, the ordered government of the Presbyterian, the beautiful worship of the Episcopalian.

2. And why should Church yearnings stop short here: think of the many things, great and good, in the social life of our country. We want the business habits, direct dealing, and honour among her commercial men; the free play and force of her public opinion, her respect for rights, her forbearance; the noble self-renunciation of her soldiers and sailors; the enthusiasm of her men of science, and the gravity of her lawyers. (A. Macleod, D. D.)

Faith in action

I. The Christian life is a building up of character.

1. It is more than belief of certain truths, the sustaining of certain religious emotions; it is the continuous working into the warp and woof of our life every good and excellent quality, until we arrive at the measure of and stature of the fulness that is in Christ.

2. Of course there must be a foundation, and a good one; but it is poor sort of work to be always laying foundations with so few buildings showing signs of growth, much less of completeness.

3. May not this partly account for the slow spread of the gospel? We can show many who have begun to build, but is that an inducement for others to begin also?

II. It is just by these things that we are judged by the world.

1. It is very true that the world is not discerning in its judgments. It sees professors doing disreputable things and immediately exclaims, “There is your religion for you.” With just as much justice as if after Satan had transformed himself into an angel of light, he again assumed his demoniacal form you were to say, “There’s your angel for you.”

2. But that is no excuse for giving the world occasion to speak slightingly of the gospel. And it is just by the neglect of things virtuous and praiseworthy that we provide worldlings with arrows to shoot at Christ’s cause. What can the world think when men who profess to be sure of heaven grumble at everything that goes on in earth; when those who profess to have received mercy are unforgiving, close fisted, and hard to deal with.

3. It is not by our professions of faith that the world judges us: it cannot judge of the new birth, faith, the indwelling of the Spirit; but of the outer life it does judge, and has to some extent a right to judge. How watchful and prayerful we should be that it does not misjudge the Master through us? How careful we should be to be living epistles known and read of all men.

III. We should learn of all men whatever is virtuous or praiseworthy in their life. Let the Church learn punctuality and business habits from the merchant; the Christian, courtesy from the outward politeness of the man of the world; the Protestant, that zeal which is so self-sacrificing and the devotion that is so warm in the Roman Catholic or Mohammedan; the believer, patient and impartial study of truth from the man of science. From any and every quarter let whatsoever is of good report be welcomed.

IV. Let none imagine, however, that any excellency or virtue can re a substitute for faith in Christ. Paul was a model of every natural virtue before his conversion, and yet none needed conversion more than he. The young man whom Jesus loved was the same. Paul counted his virtues loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and nothing but that knowledge will save your soul. (R. J. Lynd, B. A.)


In the service of God there is employment for every faculty and function; they each have a mission for the Master. The power to think is the prerogative distinctly peculiar to man.

I. Thought is a duty. Thoughtlessness, and consequently ignorance, is what the Lord so pathetically lamented in His people Israel. “Israel doth not know; My people doth not consider.” Thoughtlessness has wrought the ruin of our race. Isaac “meditated at eventide.” Joshua was commanded to “meditate day and night in the statutes of the Lord.” David was a diligent and talented thinker. “When I consider Thy heavens,” etc.

II. Subjects for thought. “Whatsoever things are true,” etc. We are to think, but not at random. Definite thought alone is profitable. There are subjects worthy of winning the thoughts of thinkers the most profound. (J. W. Bray.)


I. That we should aim at perfect integrity of character.

1. Christian graces are commonly grouped together in the Scriptures. The reason is, that they have all one root and originating source; and where one exists the rest may be looked for.

2. Some there are who are satisfied with few excellencies, forgetting that, though remarkable for one or two virtues, their character may still be egregiously defective. It may be distorted and disproportionate, like fruit that is ripe only on one side, or like trees with half their branches withered.

3. It is easy to cultivate those virtues which are most congenial with our natural temperament, most opportune to our immediate circumstances, or most frequent in our circle of friends. But of these we may be the least careful, while we should bestow all possible diligence to bring up those graces to which we are least prone, or which are least popular.

4. This apostle would have us lacking nothing.

II. In the acquisition of a perfect character, the proper direction and control of the thoughts is of paramount importance. Thoughts are either indicative of character, or formative of it. Our thoughts partly result from our disposition, and partly create it. In the former light they may serve as a test of our real state to ourselves. But mainly we would speak of the thoughts as tending to form character. Such thoughts are those voluntary ones which we choose to indulge.

1. Thoughts create images: images produce desires: desires influence the temper and direct the will: the will displays itself in overt action.

2. What thoughts should we indulge?

3. How to think of these things.

The transforming power of thought

Think on these things and you will become--

I. Better. What a man thinks most about grows upon him. A youth may care very little about business; but presently he becomes interested in it, and it grows upon him until before middle age is reached he can scarcely think of anything else. It is so with the artist, with the pleasure seeker, and with the Christian. Let him think on “whatsoever things are true,” etc., and the more attractive they will become; the larger place will they occupy in his heart, and the mightier will be their influence on his life. Beholding these things with an open face, he will be naturally, insensibly, gradually changed into the same image.

II. More charitable. One of our most common tendencies is to look at the weaknesses and shortcomings of our brethren--to let the thought of these things exclude the thought of their good qualities. Hence harsh judgments, suspicion, distrust. If, however, we would lay aside this tendency and “take account of” (R.V. marg.) whatsoever things are true, etc., in our neighbours--look upon their good instead of on their faulty side, we should think more kindly of them, our thoughts would influence our conduct, and we should be drawn towards them by a three-fold cord of love. And this is possible. There is much that is praiseworthy even in brethren who have been overtaken in a fault. Much of our unity, success, comfort as communities, depend on our cultivating this habit.

III. More helpful. A man’s power to help does not so much depend on his intentions as on his character and disposition. The presence of a good man--a man who has “thought on these things” until they have become part of himself, always acts like a tonic on weaker souls. It reproves their slowness, quickens their desires, and stimulates their efforts. Such a man is a means of grace. (J. Ogle.)

Christian thought

Not the common word for think, but the reckoning, counting up, dwelling repeatedly on these things. It is not the bee’s touching upon the flowers that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon them and drawing out the sweet. It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most on Divine truth that will prove the choicest, wisest, strongest Christian. (J. Hall.)

The difficulty and importance of continuous thought

How many persons are made and kept frivolous by an inability to prescribe the subjects on which their mind shall run! They would give, or fancy they would give, all that they possess for the power to say decisively but for one short hour, “This and but this shall be the subject of my thoughts.” But they find that when they open their Bible the mind has flown away to some meditation of things present and transitory; when they kneel down to pray, even attention is absent, they cannot remember God’s presence, much less can they wish the thing they profess to pray for. Such persons are good judges of Paul’s precept, however little they may believe in the possibility of obeying it. For indeed it is a very dreadful thing, when we reflect upon it--a strong proof, were there no other, of our fallen and ruined state--that a man should thus sit at a helm of which he has lost the rudder, should thus be responsible for the conduct of a mind over which practically he has no control. And if that responsibility cannot be desired; if “out of the heart the mouth speaketh,” if by the heart the path of life is chosen and the course of life shaped; in short, if, in every sense of the words, “out of the heart are the issues of life,” and according to the life must be the eternal judgment of each one of us; how terrible must it be to be unable from a moral impotency to obey the charge “keep that heart with all diligence”; to be compelled to let thought drift whither it will, and yet to know that thought guides action, and action may destroy the soul. (Dean Vaughan.)

Whatsoever things are true--

Truth hath

1. God to maintain it.

2. Defence in itself.

3. Goodness to accompany it.

4. Liberty consequent upon it.

5. It is connatural to our principles.

6. The foundation of order.

7. The ground of human converse.

8. The bond of union. (B. Whichcote, B. D.)

False measures of truth

I. The longest sword; and then the Mahometans must have it; and before them the great disturbers of mankind, whom we call conquerors, as Alexander and Caesar.

II. If the loudest lungs must carry it, then the Baal worshippers must have it from Elijah; for he had but one still voice; but they cry from morning to night.

III. If the most voices; then the condemners of our Saviour must have it: for they all cry, Crucify, Crucify. Therefore these are false measures. (B. Whichcote, B. D.)

Spheres of truth

I. Be true to yourselves--to your better nature. As Shakespeare says, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

II. To your neighbours in--

1. Word.

2. Love.

3. Act.

4. Manner.

III. To God.

1. To His claims.

2. To your promises.

3. In your hearts, for truth is required in the inward parts.

4. In your life, for there you may best glorify Him. (W. Landells, D. D.)

Universality of truth

Moral truth in its universality is like the pine tree. Societies have claimed the one for their own, as some naturalists have claimed the other for northern climes. But both are wrong. As to the pine, it is represented in all zones, from the cedars of Lebanon to the fir bushes of the Scandinavian mountain tops. There are particular trees, as there are certain forms of speculative and political truth, which can survive only in a limited region; the one being fitted only for a peculiar atmosphere, as the other is only adapted to circumscribed types of mind. But moral truth flourishes amongst all the mental productions of man, as the pine amongst the vegetation of the world. It must thrive everywhere, because suited to and intended for the world. (Dr. Herman Masius.)

New truth unwelcome

Men who have lived in traditional knowledge do not thank you for a new truth. It dazes and confounds their dim vision, which is unsuited to its reception. Their bewilderment at the light is similar to that of the cricket. As that creature lives chiefly in the dark, so its eyes seem formed for the gloominess of its abode; and you have only to light a candle unexpectedly, and it becomes so dazed that it cannot find its way back to its retreat. (Goldsmith.)

Loyalty to truth

A father found a favourite cherry tree hacked and ruined. He cried sternly to his son: “George, who did this?” He looked at his father with a quivering lip, and said: “Father, I cannot tell a lie: I did it.” “Alas!” said the father, “my beautiful tree is ruined; but I would rather lose all the trees I have than have a liar for my son.” The boy who feared a lie worse than punishment became the hero of his country, General Washington. Whatsoever things are honest--The word does not exactly mean what we call honest, but what is worthy of honour, revered, august, venerable, majestic. Think on whatever things you can look up to in persons, circumstances, and respect. Especially in social life, in the political world, in literature. Where there is no room for reverence there is no room for life. The name of God, the idea of worship, the solemnity of life, the immortality of the soul, the fact of death, the judgment seat--“think on these things,” awful, venerable things l Then government, law, the State, the Church, the ruling powers and influences of society; the magistrate, holding “not the sword in vain, the minister of God to thee for good”--“think on these things,” pray for them; cheek faction, uphold authority. Nor are the grand advances of science to be omitted from this catalogue. For these, we are to bless God. His hand is in them all. The astronomical accuracy that can calculate the moment of an eclipse a hundred years hence--the power of expediting communication, like lightning, to the ends of the earth--the triumph over winds and waves--the mighty faculty of the poet--the genius of history, the gift of eloquence--the prevention of disease, the alleviation of pain--the “rise up and walk” of medical skill--these, too, together with the awful and majestic in nature and art, whatsoever in mountain or sea or sky, whatsoever in painting or noble structure shows greatness of purpose, nobility of soul, and tends to bow our souls in admiration--“think on these things.” (B. Kent.)

Whatsoever things are just, observant of the rule of right--equal. The original signification of the term was custom--order--social rule, in opposition to the unmannered life of wild tribes, who are swayed by inclination, passion, caprice. There is a Divine order in this world, amid all our confusions. He who walks in that order walks in the way of the Lord. That is right, just. “There is none righteous.” Christ is the “Just One.” There is His righteousness; we must be clothed with it. “Looking unto Jesus” is the loving study of God’s laws perfectly fulfilled in Him for us. Thus we are taught to repent of our deviations, i.e., sin, missing the mark, going out of the way. This leads us to acknowledge our weakness, and to cry mightily to God to bring us to Christ, “the Way.” The brief description of Christianity in apostolic times was “that way,” or “the way of the Lord,” “the way of life.” It is God’s way of working, saving, ruling, pardoning, that we want to walk in--the way of righteousness. Think on the things in society that are conformed to this rule of order and right. There is the way of the righteous King. He walks there. There He takes delight. In the family, in the Church, in the State; whatever is upright, observant of right, and struggles against wrong-doing, fraud, injustice, is the finger of God. Consciously or unconsciously it is doing His work; the vindication of human rights against oppression, ignorance, superstition, the devil, is working for and with Christ. Take a large and ample range over society, discover the right, the lawful, the just, making head against the wrong, the false, the licentious; think of these things; pray for them, and see God’s hand and way in them. Think on them; they are; God does not leave Himself without a witness; there are more signs of righteous government in the world than many of us suspect. They are about our path if we will but open our eyes, and observe, and desire to see them. There are flowers, and palms, and pools in the desert. “Think on these things.” (B. Kent.)

Whatsoever things are pure, unsullied, akin to holy. “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself,” etc. “Ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” “Some preach Christ … not sincerely.” “Lay hands suddenly on no man … keep thyself pure.” Thus the word has reference to what may and does defile; influences in the Church and the world which tend to stain our consciences; connivance at sin, excusing evil, insincere statements; having a bad motive underlying right conduct; preaching such a gospel as Paul rejoiced to know was preached, and yet not with cleanness of conscience. Timothy is to let the candidates for the ministry consider their motives; he is to study their conduct for a while, lest love of money, or of applause, of vulgar fame, or eccleciastical power and influence, should prove the determining influences, and thus he would be a partaker of other men’s sins. This suggests the need of “the blood of sprinkling,” that our actions, motives, powers, prayers, may be cleansed of all vile, base admixtures. A true Christian will bemoan nothing more feelingly than the constant detection of impure, low motive in his spiritual life. The apostle exhorts us to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” In the intercourse of the world one is in constant danger of a certain miasma, the pollution of low, selfish, interested motive; it is drawn in naturally as the pure air; and unless we think of “whatsoever things are pure,” and do like the Italian peasant, when the night comes on, get out of the low ground on to a hill above the reach of the miasma, we are in danger of losing the freshness and vigour of our spiritual life. When the day is over we should get us up to the mountains, and converse with our Lord concerning the conduct of the day, and ask Him to see “if there is any wicked way in us, and to wash us, not our feet only, but also our hands and our head.” “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (B. Kent.)

The power of purity

It is a marvellous thing to see how a pure and innocent heart purifies all that it approaches. The most ferocious natures are soothed and tamed by innocence. And so with human beings there is a delicacy so pure that vicious men in its presence become almost pure; all of purity that is in them being brought out; like attaches itself to like. The pure heart becomes a centre of attraction, round which similar atoms gather, and from which dissimilar ones are repelled. A corrupt heart in an hour elicits all that is bad in us; a spiritual one brings out and draws to itself all that is best and purest. Such was Christ. He stood in the world the Light of the world, to which all sparks of light gradually gathered. He stood in the presence of impurity, and men and women became pure. (F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Purity inculcated

Live in purity, my child, through this fair life, pure from every vice and every evil knowledge, as the lily lives in silent innocence, as the turtledove amid the branches, that thou, when the Father downward gazes, mayest be His beloved object on earth, as the unconscious wanderer gazes on the lovely star of even; that thou, when the sun dissolves thee, mayest show thyself a pearl of purest whiteness, that thy thoughts may be as the rose’s perfume, that thy love may be like a glowing sunbeam, and thy life like shepherd’s song of evening, like the tones his flute pours forth so softly. (Schiller.)

Whatsoever things are lovely--

I. The union of strength and beauty in Christian character.

1. The virtues of this verse are parts of one organic whole; they so hang together that the absence of one goes far to destroy the value of the other. This is especially true of “things honest and just.” The world is compelled to respect truth, however lacking in grace. The addition of “things lovely” elevates the righteous into the good man: but the righteous man may be honoured and trusted