About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapter 4
In verse 2 we see Paul
“pleading” as the NIV says with 2 women.
This pleading was an admonition to “agree with each other”,
or “to keep minding the same thing in the Lord”.
I don’t 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
In verse 3 Paul asks his
“loyal yokefellows” to help these women out with their problem.
The word “yokefellow” is made up of 2 Greek word’ one for
“yoke’ and one for “fellow”.
The word “yoke” means a joining together. So
“yokefellow” means two or more fellows, or people who have been
joined together, and in this case joined together in Jesus by His
The picture to have in
your mind to help explain yokefellow is the yoke that is bound around
the neck of oxen in those days. The
yoke was tied around their necks to keep them together as they pulled a
wagaon or a plow.
We 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’ve been joined together in great loyalty.
This should be the case with all Christians.
We thus see how Paul views his relationships with other
Christians. No wonder he’s
so happy when things are going well and so unhappy when things aren’t
going so well with his fellow yoked believers.
concerning the word “loyalty” is that it presents a picture of being
yoked by choice and not by force. The
oxen are yoked by human demands. They
are not yoked on their own free will.
This is not so with Christians.
We should be yoked by choice that come from the love of Jesus.
Forced yoking is not true Biblical yoking.
Also in verse 3 we note
that these 2 ladies have contended at Paul’s side in the work of the
gospel. We learn 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’s clear the
Once 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.
Also note the name
Clement. Some wonder if this
not the famous Clement that is a leader in the church in later years,
but there’s no hint of this in the text.
In 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
In verse 5 he says,
“let your gentleness be made known to all”.
Here we see that Paul must believe 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.
Also in verse 5 he says,
“the Lord is near”. I
suppose there might be 2 ways of looking at these words.
One way is that the presence of Jesus is near, while the other
way is that His return is near. I
believe most commentators suggest the second to be Paul’s intent.
In 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’s our choice.
And Paul 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.
Petitioning Jesus is asking him for specific things.
Then we end with words of thankfulness.
Note 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 responds.
The last phrase in verse
6 says, “present your requests to God”.
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.
I don’t believe there is anything wrong with asking Jesus for
personal requests. We ask and
we leave it to His will.
In 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 the world and all that comes our way. Our
hearts and minds should be given over to the Lordship of Jesus but that
doesn’t mean they will not suffer attack.
The peace of God can help in the times of attack from the enemy.
There is peace of God and
there is peace in God. There’s
2 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 in 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 God’s
side. We are in a state of
peace with Him and not a state of war.
We are no longer enemies.
Paul says that this peace
passes understanding. If we
can truly find this peace in our hearts and minds that comes from God,
those around 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.
In verse 8 Paul lists the
following things for the Philippians to think about.
I’m sure it’s not an exhaustive list.
It’s mainly a list of positive things to set one’s heart and
mind on. The things that we
should think on are things that are, true, noble, right, pure, lovely,
admirable, excellent, or
The point to this is that
when we think on these things we tend to not think on the things we
shouldn’t 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.
In verse 9 Paul says,
“whatever things you have learned, or received, or heard from me, or
seen in me – put into practice”.
Paul’s 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.
Part of Paul’s 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 me or submit to me.
This isn’t the kind of following or imitating that Paul is
talking about. He’s
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 Paul’s way of
We 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.
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 terms.
The 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 don’t, we sin. As
James says, “he that knows to do good and doesn’t do good, to him
this is sin”. (James 4:17)
In verse 11 Paul is
making sure that the Philippians understand that he is not need because
of what he has just said. If
his words suggested that he was in need, they’d be right their to
help, and they have done more than enough already.
Besides, as he says in the last half of verse 11, “I learned to
be content whatever the circumstances”.
Paul didn’t really want these people to go out of their way to
The Greek word that is
translated here means “self sufficient”.
What Paul is saying here is that he has learned in all things to
be self sufficient and not have to depend on others, or bother others
for anything. And, he is
content to be this way. This
is easily seen in the way Paul lived. He never collected a salary from
anyone. He made money from
his tent making. He did his best not to be indebted to anyone.
I believe he did this out of love.
Some might suggest that Paul had a stubborn independent streak in
him and maybe to a degree that might be right.
I don’t know if we can say that for sure.
But one thing we can say for sure from what he writes is that
everything he does is motivated from the love of Jesus.
Paul doesn’t ask from
others because he is independent. He
doesn’t ask of others because he’d rather give to others than take
If Paul was an
independent type of man, I believe he had that in balance.
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, he obviously knew how to work effectively with others.
In 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 doesn’t mean you’ll always
have everything you want or even need at times.
Still, Paul was content in knowing Jesus through these hard
Also in verse 13 he says
that he’s “learned the secret” of being content.
It is something he had to learn.
Being a Pharisee in his earlier life meant that he had much of
everything, and lacked for nothing.
Yet once coming to Jesus all that was lost, and it was a learning
process for him. The Greek
word translated as “secret” suggests
“mystery”. And a mystery
it is. Being content in all
circumstances of life does not come normal to us.
It is something we learn, and it is a mystery to human nature.
It’s a mystery because it is foreign to us.
Verse 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 simpler statement to understand but I have seen this verse
misinterpreted at 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 cause and help you to do
everything, including singing in the worship team.
He quotes this verse to back what he says.
Well, some people can’t sing.
I know that Jesus can do miracles, but if you don’t have the
God given talent to sing, you shouldn’t be on the worship team, and no
one should use this verse to make you sing.
This 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.
In verse 14 Paul says,
“yet it was good of you to share in my troubles”.
What Paul has just said might come across as him being overly
independent, never wanting any help from these people and maybe not
thankful for the help they did give him.
Paul is thankful and he didn’t want the Philippians to think
differently. So he says it
straight out by telling them that it was good of them to help him.
In 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
There were other churches
around that could have fellowshipped with Paul in this matter, but
didn’t. One reason why
they might not have is because Paul really didn’t want this.
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.
The matter of “giving
and receiving” suggests a two way street.
One gives at times and one receives at times.
If you don’t 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 don’t
beg or demand from others, but if others freely give to you, you thank
them for it, and that is what Paul is doing now.
Another 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 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 today’s 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 it’s done out of the joy of his heart.
In verse 16 we see
that the Philippians just didn’t 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.
Their giving was from their own free will with no arm twisting
Once again Paul wants to
be clear, and in verse 17 he makes sure his readers don’t 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 this 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.
In 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. But
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.
Also 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.
Verse 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’d
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 got the promise and what
needed to be done wasn’t written in the promise box.
Paul 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 Philippians’ 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
Verse 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 verse 21 Paul greets
all the saints in
In verse 22 Paul notes
brothers from Caesar’s 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
Nero’s affairs. Basically, many people who were employed by Nero, so to
speak, became Christians through their contact with Paul.
Since we see Caesar mentioned here,
it seems clear to me that Paul wrote this letter while in
Verse 23 ends Paul’s
letter to the Philippians. He
says, “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Amen”. The last
word of Paul here is “grace”, that is “God’s unmerited favour
towards us and His ability to do in us as He wishes”.
May this grace be found in our spirit. If it is in our spirit it
will show forth in all we do.