About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapter 4
verse 2 we see Paul "pleading" as the NIV says with two women.
This pleading was an admonition to "agree with each
other," or "to keep minding the same thing in the Lord."
I donít believe Paul is telling Euodia and Syntythe to think
alike in all things. Paul is
telling them to have the same purpose in mind in the work they do in the
idea here is as best as two people can, they must live in harmony,
despite the difference of opinions.
Brotherly love and God's grace extended to one another should be
the underlying motivation to maintained healthy relationships.
Now Paul is not talking about condoning sin and not confronting
sin, as he did in 1 Corinthians 5 when he advised that the man having
sex with his step-mother should be expelled from the church.
These women seemed to be having relational problems.
What exactly this relational problem was based on we do not know.
verse 3 Paul asks his "loyal yokefellow" to help these women
work out their relational problem. Whatever
this problem was, it had to have been somewhat serious for Paul to have
written about it in this letter. The
Greek word "syzygos" is translated as "yokefellow"
in this verse. It is made up
of two Greek words, one for "yoke" and one for
word simply means a joining together, and in this case joined together
in Jesus by His Spirit. All
that being said, the common consensus seems to be that this Greek word
is actually a person's name. Although
it is somewhat debatable, many believe Paul was speaking to a specific
man here in the hope that he could help mend the relationship between
these two women.
also see the word "loyal" before the word
"yokefellow," giving even more credence to the joining of
these Philippians with each other and with Paul.
They have been joined together in great loyalty.
This should be the case with all Christians in every community of
believers. We, thus, see how
Paul views his relationships with other Christians.
No wonder he is so happy when things are going well and so
unhappy when things arenít going so well with his fellow yoked
thought concerning the word "loyal" is that it presents a
picture of being yoked by choice and not by force.
The ox is yoked by human demands.
An ox is not yoked by his own free will.
This is not so with Christians.
We should be yoked by choice that comes from a heart of love and
grace. Forced yoking is not
true Biblical yoking.
in verse 3 we note that these two ladies have contended at Paulís side
in the work of the Lord. We
learn here, as we do elsewhere, as in Romans 16, that women were
involved in the work of the Lord. The
word "contend" means that these women were putting great
effort into their work and were actually fighting the good fight of
faith along with Paul. It is
again we see the term "fellow workers."
Paul views himself as one working alongside others.
He does not view himself in place of superiority over others, and
really, that is the way it should be with us and Jesus.
We work alongside Jesus. He
works alongside of us through His Spirit.
note the name Clement. Some
wonder if this is not the famous Clement that is a leader in the church
in later years of the first century, but there is no hint of this in the
text. Clement was a common
name back then.
adds that those he has just mentioned are found in the Book of Life that
records all of the names of those who belong to Jesus.
See Revelation 3:5, 13:8 and 17:8.
verse 4 we see Paul exhorting these people to rejoice as he has already
a few times in this letter, but as we see in chapter 3 verse 1, Paul
does not have any problems with repeating himself. He views such
repetition as a safeguard.
verse 5 he says: "let your gentleness be made known to all."
The Greek word translated as "gentleness' in the NIV can
also be translated as forbearance, moderation, or something similar.
Here we see that Paul believed that gentleness is a good quality
to have. More can be
accomplished through gentleness than harshness.
Also, you can still speak the truth from a gentle spirit.
Gentleness does not imply weakness.
It actually implies strength.
If you can speak the truth in a gentle, but with conviction
manner, it means you have the strength to control your emotions.
For some, gentleness is a difficult task.
Some are more gentle by nature than others.
5 also says: "the Lord is near."
I suppose there might be two ways of looking at these words.
One way is that the presence of Jesus is near, while the other
way is that Jesus' return is near. I
suggest that the first view to be the more likely one.
Paul is talking about character quality here and because the Lord
is near via His Spirit, He can assist us to be gentle and moderate.
verse 6 Paul tells his readers to "not be anxious about
anything." You will see
a note of humanness here. Paul
tells his readers not to be anxious but in chapter 2, verse 28, Paul
speaks about himself having anxiety at times. We all have anxiety at
times, but when the anxiety begins to set in, we can turn to Jesus.
It is our choice to submit to Jesus and His help or to wallow
away in our anxiety. The
Greek word that is translated as "anxious" expresses a
distraction that takes one way from effectively serving Jesus.
then tells us in the next phrase how to be relieved of anxiety. It
is through prayer, petition, and thanksgiving.
This confirms what I said in the last paragraph.
We turn to Jesus in times of anxiety.
We pray, we petition, and we thank Jesus for all things.
Petitioning Jesus is asking him for specific things.
Then we end with words of thankfulness.
the word petition. Petitioning
is asking. It is not
claiming. We simply ask
Jesus for what we feel we need and then thank him in whatever way He
last phrase in verse 6 says: "present your requests to God with
thanksgiving." I know
that we are to ask in the name of Jesus, that is, asking according to
His will, but, I believe these requests that Paul is speaking about
could well be personal requests that may have little to do with
ministry. The context might
suggest this. I do not believe there is anything wrong with asking Jesus
for personal requests. We
ask and we leave it to His will and thank Him for however He responds.
verse 7 we see the results of the above prayers.
The peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds. Both
our hearts and minds need to be guarded from the devil and world and all
that comes our way. Our hearts and minds should be given over to the
Lordship of Jesus but that doesnít mean they will not suffer attack.
The peace of God can help in the times of attack from the enemy.
The peace of God can relieve our anxiety.
the peace of God I believe there is peace of or with God and there is
peace in God. There are two
types of peace. This peace
that Paul is talking about is a peace that can penetrate our hearts and
minds to set us at rest and relieve the anxiety.
Then there is the peace of or with God that we have when we are
reconciled to Him. This
peace means that we are no longer enemies of God.
This is what reconciliation means, that is, we are on Godís
side. We are in a state of
peace with Him and not a state of enmity.
We are no longer enemies.
says that this peace passes understanding.
If we can truly find this peace in our hearts and minds in the
midst of turmoil and anxiety that comes from God and is simply difficult
to figure out. Those around
you can see our state of peace and wonder how it could be so.
When going through hardships how can one be at peace?
It is beyond comprehension and only attainable through Jesus, but
it is attainable.
Greek word that is translated as "guard" is a military word.
It speaks to guarding a city, a nation, or4 whatever a military
soldier might need to guard.
verse 8 Paul lists the following things for the Philippians to think
about and have lived out in their lives.
I am sure it is not an exhaustive list.
It is mainly a list of positive attributes to set oneís heart
and mind on. The things that
we should think on are things that are, true, noble, right, pure,
lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy.
point to this is that when we think on these things we tend to not think
on the things we shouldnít be thinking about. This does not mean that
we should never address the opposite to these things, that is problems,
because we should, and Paul often does that.
By this I mean that we are not to overlook negative things in our
pursuit of positive thinking. Positive
thinking is important, but, as it is often taught in secular culture
apart from Jesus is humanistic. I
am not saying that our modern culture's understanding of positive
thinking cannot be effective in a life because it can be.
I am simply saying that for the Christian there is more than
simply positive thinking. There
is the power of the Holy Spirit which we cannot neglect.
first positive attribute that Paul lists here whatever is
"true." I think
this one is especially important in today's world when se many people
through social media and elsewhere espouse things that are not true.
It is especially so in American politics these days.
Even Evangelical Christians are neglecting what is true in order
to maintain their political allegiance.
That is to say they will ignore the sin of a politician if it
helps their cause. I would
dare say that this was not how John the Baptist conducted his ministry.
is noble is another good quality Paul mentions.
The word "noble" can be understood in terms of being
"reverent" towards one another.
I would suggest that would be a good character quality to have in
is pure is another good character quality.
Again, in today's western culture purity, whether sexual purity
or any other kind of purity is losing ground to impurity.
is right is yet another good attribute.
This sort of goes along with the word "true" that is
mentioned above. The word
"fake" has become a popular word here in 2018 in western
culture. We have fake news
and fake anything. We use
the word "fake" to promote our own position, and, what we
often call fake these days is not necessarily fake.
We only proclaim it to be fake in order to push our own agenda.
is lovely comes next in line. The
English word "lovely" is translated from the Greek word "prosphiles."
In this word is the Greek word "philes," meaning
brotherly or reciprocal love.
is admirable is next on Paul's list.
The Greek word translated here as "admirable" speaks to
things that are of a good report, of sound reasoning.
next in line is excellence, or, as the Greek implies, moral good,
virtuous, or pre-eminence.
we see the word praiseworthy, or, anything that is worth giving praise
to. In this particular
instance the Greek word is a strong word, meaning, a strong form of
verse 9 Paul says: "whatever things you have learned, or received,
or heard from me, or seen in me Ė put into practice."
Paulís life was such that he could say this.
If any of us wants to say such things to others, we should make
sure that our lives are worth imitating.
Paul is saying, and I believe rightfully so, that he is one who
has these character traits being produced in him.
I am sure that he would say, as he did earlier, that he has not
fully attained, but, he would also say that he has come a very long way
in having these good qualities in his life.
of Paulís ministry was to set himself forth to be an example for
others to follow. He did not
do this from a position of heavy handed authority.
Paul was not saying, obey or submit to me or else.
This is not the kind of following or imitating that Paul is
talking about. He is saying,
"as I live before the Lord in all purity, truth, and all of the
above things, you do the same."
And if you do this, "the God of peace will be with
you." The God of peace
will be with those who follow Paulís way of living.
should be clear that Paul is not asking people to imitate or follow him
in the things he does. We
all have different ministries. Paul
is asking these people to follow him in his Godly character.
These are two different things altogether.
He describes part of what being a Godly person is like in verse
8. It is the things in verse
8 that Paul wants these people to follow him in.
verse 10 we see that Paul rejoices over the fact that the Philippians
had renewed their concern for Paul.
He goes on to say that they always had this concern but was
unable to do anything about it. Now
that they had sent Epaphroditus, this concern was expressed in practical
Lord does look on our hearts. We
often times do have genuine concern for others but are unable to do
anything about it. We will
not be judged for this, but, when and if we have opportunity to express
this concern we should do so. If
we donít, we sin. As James
says, "he that knows to do good and doesnít do good, to him this
is sin." (James 4:17)
often find myself in the position of wanting to do more but I can't.
Being legally blind, there are many things I would like to do in
the service of the Lord, but simply can't do.
I know the Lord sees my heart.
verse 11 Paul is making sure that the Philippians understand that he is
not in need because of what he has just said.
If his words suggested that he was in need, they would be right
to help, and they have done more than enough already.
Besides, as he says in the last half of verse 11: "I have
learned to be content whatever the circumstances."
Paul did not really want these people to go out of their way to
Greek word "artaukes" is made up of two Greek words meaning
"self" and "sufficient."
What Paul is saying here is that he has learned in all things to
be self sufficient and content. Although
Paul appreciates the help from his brothers in the Lord, he does not
want to have a dependency on them. Always
looking for help from others is not really a good attitude to have.
does not ask from others too often because he, or so I believe, has a
healthy independence. Their is a unhealthy independence that borders on
arrogance. Paul did
not have that. He does not
ask of others because he would rather give to others than take from
I have said, I believe by nature that Paul was an independent type of
man, but he was not so independent that he ignored the Body of Christ in
which he was a part. He
viewed himself as being part of the Body of Christ, having co-worker
status with his brothers and sisters in Christ. If Paul was independent,
how to work effectively with others.
the word "content" is part of the meaning of this Greek word,
and I am not quite sure it is; that tells me that Paul, despite all of
his hardships, lived a life of contentment.
Anyone who knows anything about Paul knows that most of his
post-conversion life was complicated with hardship.
Many of us could not have withstood such trials as Paul.
Non-the-less, we are to be encouraged by Paul's example to live a
life of contentment despite what may come our way, which is hard for
western world Christians to do in our heavily consumer driven culture.
We want, and we want more. Our
desire for more often hinders our service of the Lord.
I have always said it this way.
If we cannot be content with what we have, and if our desire for
more outweighs our contentment; we will live a life of frustration.
If you want to free yourself from frustration, live a life of
verse 12 Paul states that he knows what it is like to have lots, and
also to have nothing. He
knows what it is like to have lots of food, yet he knows about
starvation, yet, in all these things he is content.
This tells us that being a servant of the Lord does not mean you
will always have everything you want or even need at times.
Still, Paul was content in knowing Jesus through these hard
should know that there is no corresponding word for our English word
"content" in this verse. The
NIV translators, as is also seen in other versions of the Bible relate
what he is saying here with what he said in the last verse where he was
talking about being content or self-sufficient.
verse 12 Paul also says that he has "learned the secret" of
being content. It is
something he had to learn, and I believe he learned contentment through
the things he suffered. Suffering
can produce contentment in your life if you allow it, and if you trust
Jesus in the process.
a Pharisee in his earlier life meant that Paul had much of everything,
and lacked for little. This
would have been especially true if he was a member of the Sanhedrin as
some suggest. That being
said, once coming to Jesus all that was lost, and it was a learning
process for him.
Greek word translated as "secret" suggests
"mystery," and a mystery it is.
Being content in all circumstances of life is not a normal
attribute people have. It is
an allusive characteristic that many never find in their lives.
It is something we must learn, and it is a mystery to human
nature. It is a mystery
because it is foreign to who we are.
13 is the simple conclusion to what Paul has just said. "I
can do everything through Him who gives me the strength."
This should be a simple statement to understand but I have seen
this verse misinterpreted many times.
For example, a pastor encourages people to be active in the
church. He needs singers for
the worship team and so he says that Jesus can help you to do
everything, including singing in the worship team.
He quotes this verse to back what he says.
Well, some people cannot sing.
I know that Jesus can do miracles, but if you donít have the
God given talent to sing, you should not be on the worship team, and no
one should use this verse to make you sing.
verse simply means that Jesus can help you through any circumstance of
life that comes your way, whether good or bad.
The context is speaking of surviving the hardships of life and
nothing else. To go beyond
this context is bad Biblical interpretation.
verse 14 Paul says: "yet it was good of you
verse 15 Paul reminds the Philippians of their early years of faith
which by some commentators account was ten years prior to this.
He reminded them that in those days they were the only church
that "shared with him in the matter of giving and receiving."
The word shared is the well known Greek word "koinonia"
that means "to fellowship, to hold in common, to share."
Some translations actually say that these people were the only
church that fellowship with him in the matter of giving and receiving.
were other churches around that could have fellowshipped with Paul in
this matter, but didnít. One
reason why they might not have is because Paul really didnít want this
help. It seems the
Philippians did help Paul out in their early days of faith and Paul did
not want to hurt their feelings being new in the Lord, so he graciously
accepted whatever they gave him.
matter of giving and receiving suggests a two way street.
One gives at times and one receives at times.
If you donít ever receive, then you fail to allow someone else
to give, yet, the receiving is not based on demand, or receiving because
you deserve it. You donít beg or demand from others, but if others
freely give to you, you thank them for it, and that is what Paul is
thing to note here is that churches as a whole may not have helped Paul
at this point but it is clear that individual brothers and sisters in
the Lord did help Paul. This
is important because giving should be first an individual thing, and
then secondly a group thing. One
problem with todayís church is that individuals give to the church,
and then the church distributes the funds as the leadership sees fit.
This loses all personal touch by the individual and giving
becomes purely routine. Yet
when the individual gives to a specific cause, it is his choice and
itís done out of the joy of his heart.
verse 16 we see that the Philippians just didnít give once, but they
gave over and over again. This
giving had to have been out of love for Paul.
It is important to understand that Paul never preached to these
people that they needed to financially support him.
That is to say, Paul never preached tithing as some do today in
order get money from those to whom they preach. Their giving was from
their own free will with no arm twisting from Paul.
again Paul wants to be clear, and in verse 17 he makes sure his readers
donít get the idea that he is hinting around for more of their giving.
Paul would never do such a thing.
The reason why he mentions giving is that when they, or when we,
give out of pure motives, our heavenly account will be credited by
Jesus. Jesus told us to lay
up treasure in heaven and not on earth.
This is what Jesus meant. When
the Philippians gave to Paul, Paul was mostly happy not for what he got,
but for the fact the Philippian Christians had an account in heaven and
it was just credited by Jesus. Once
again, Paul thinks of others over himself.
verse 18 Paul says that he "has received full payment and more, and
that he is amply supplied" now that he had received from
Epaphroditus the gifts they sent to him. Epaphroditus
brought some kind of gifts from the Philippians to give to Paul.
As we learned earlier, Paul viewed the biggest gift these people
sent was Epaphroditus himself. A
real live human being was the most important gift, and this is typical
Paul as well. The person is
more important than what he has to give.
in verse 18 Paul says that these gifts were "a fragrant offering
and acceptable sacrifice to God." This
is interesting. These people gave Paul the gift but he says that the
gift was acceptable to God. This
is a New Testament truth. When
you give to your brother, you give to God.
Jesus Himself said that when He said that when you do this to the
least of these my brothers, you do it to me. So whatever we do, or
whatever we give, and to whoever we give to, in the final analysis, we
give to Jesus.
here in verse 18 that Paul's wording is Old Testament Jewish wording.
There would be some Jews in this community, but most of them were
19 is often taken out of context. Years
ago Christians used to have what they called promise boxes.
In the box would be a number of little cards on it with
Scriptural promises. You
would pull out one promise a day and claim the promise.
The problem with promise boxes is that usually a promise followed
something that needed to be done before one received the promise and
what needed to be done wasnít written in the promise box.
My point is simple. Put
the promise in context, because unless you fulfill what the context
tells you to do, you will not receive the promise.
tells these people that God will supply all of their needs.
The important part of this verse comes in the verses before.
The reason why God will supply the Philippiansí needs is
because they generously gave, and when you generously give as unto the
Lord, your heavenly bank account increases in value to the point that
when you need something, Jesus will pull out what you need from this
20 ends this section. Paul says, "to our God and Father be glory
for ever and ever."
God is both God and Father to the Christian. The
most important aspect of God being our Father is the fact that God is
also the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The
God that Christians serve is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus
Christ. There is no other
God. In today's religious
world where many believe that all religions end up at the same God, what
Paul says here is religiously incorrect these days.
The God of the Bible that Christians serve is the God and Father
of Jesus. No other religion
makes that claim, so, how can we worship the same God as a Muslim or
someone of any other religion.
verse 21 Paul greets all the saints in
verse 22 Paul notes brothers from Caesarís household send their
greetings. Nero was the
Caesar at this time. Paul is
not referring to Nero's immediate or even distant family.
Household refers to slaves who were in fact important managers of
Neroís affairs. Basically, many people who were employed by Nero so to
speak became Christians through their contact with Paul while in prison.
This surely made Paul full of joy. His
imprisonment was not in vain, and for Paul, that would make him
we see Caesar mentioned here, it seems clear to me that Paul wrote this
letter while in
23 ends Paulís letter to the Philippians.
He says, "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your
The last word of Paul here is "grace," that is both
Godís unmerited favour towards us and His ability He gives us to do
His will." May
this grace be found in our spirit. If
it is in our spirit it will show forth in all we do and the way we live.