Philippians 4:2-9

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Observation

  • Paul encouraged Euodia and Syntyche to agree in the Lord.
  • Paul asked his companion to help the women settle their dispute.
  • Euodia and Syntyche had worked side by side with Paul.
  • Euodia and Syntyche had worked with Clement and the rest of Paul’s fellow workers.
  • Paul’s fellow workers names are written in the book of life.
  • The Philippians were to rejoice in the Lord all the time.
  • Paul was emphatic that they should rejoice in the Lord.
  • The Philippians were to be reasonable.
  • Their reasonableness was to be known to everyone.
  • The Lord is near.
  • The Philippians were not to be anxious about anything.
  • The Philippians were to let God know their request through prayer and supplication in all situations.
  • The Philippians were to make requests of God with thanksgiving.
  • The Philippians were to give thanks in every situation.
  • The Philippians were to give thanks in prayer in every situation.
  • God’s peace is more than we can understand.
  • God’s peace will guard the hearts and minds.
  • The Philippians were to think about
    • what is true
    • what is honorable
    • what is just
    • what is pure
    • what is lovely
    • what is commendable
    • what is excellent
    • what is praiseworthy
  • The Philippians were to practice what they had learned from Paul.
  • The Philippians were to practice what they had seen in Paul.
  • If the Philippians practice the things they learned, God’s peace would be with them.

Interpretation

Paul directly addresses Eudodias and Syntyche. They are two women who appear to have a dispute with each other. Paul encourages them to settle the dispute. Not simply settle it, but they are to settle it in the Lord. Conflicts between people in this world are inevitable. We are sinners and as such do not see things as they truly are. That results in having different opinions. Sometime we have disputes about serious matters. We can work to patch things over but unless the conflict is reconciled in the Lord there will be a continual under current of distrust and conflict.

Paul asks someone he calls “true companion” to help the two women resolve their dispute. Some have surmised that this “true companion” was Paul’s wife. That is doubtful because when he wrote 1 Corinthians he mentions he is not married. He writes 1 Corinthians from Ephesus. Shortly after writing that epistle, he left Ephesus to go to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, he was put in prison, and sent to Rome. This epistle is written from Rome. That does not leave a lot of time to get married. Therefore, it is doubtful this is Paul’s wife. We are not sure who “true companion” is.

Eudodias and Syntyche have been fellow workers in the gospel of Christ. Paul mentions that they worked alongside Clement and others. Paul does not name these other co-workers but says their names are written in the book of life.

Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord. We are not to rejoice only when things are going well or when we feel happy or joyful. We are to rejoice in the Lord all of the time. We are promised trials. We are promised persecution. Even when those things happen we are to rejoice in the Lord. This is what James say also. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4) Paul repeats himself for emphasis. “Again I say rejoice!” Paul is not certain of his fate. He may be executed. If that should happen the Philippians are to remember that God is in control. And all things are working together for His glory and good for those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Paul tells the Philippians to let their reasonableness be known to everyone. The word translated reasonableness in the ESV has different translations in different versions; gentle spirit – NASB, moderation – KJV, gentleness – NKJV. The term in the Greek is a term used by secular Greeks to denote a moderation of spirit or gentleness of spirit.[1] So a good understanding of this would be to let everyone see your gentle spirit. Paul encourages us to endure all things with calmness even in difficult circumstances. We should exercise self-control even while enduring injuries, insults and accusations from others. Our carnal self will rise up under such circumstances and our sinful nature will be revealed rather than the nature of Christ.

Paul is telling us to do the same thing David and Peter told us. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalms 55:22.) “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7.)

We can be and often are shaken when temptations and persecutions occur. We are not unfeeling stones. But we are given a great gift. We can unburden ourselves in the arms of God. We have a confidence that bring peace and tranquility but only as we exercise ourselves in prayer. We are to let our request and needs be known to God via prayer. Often our prayers are narcissistic, give me, help me, protect me. But the apostle reminds us that are prayers are to be full of praise and thanksgiving. Even when we are in a bad situation we are to thank God. Even when we are asking God for His aid and guidance we are to be thankful. If we fill of prayers with thanksgiving, the peace of God will protect us.

Paul concludes this section with an exhortation which related to all of life. We are to think about things that are true, just, honorable, pure, lovely, and commendable. We are to think about things that are praiseworthy, and excellent. The old saying you are what you eat applies to what you think about. You are what you think about. Paul is preparing the Philippians to continue on without him. They are to keep their mind on God and think about what He has done. If they do that, they will do well.

Paul does not say we are to gain praise nor have men commend us or think us honorable. That is not the goal or purpose. We are to be honorable, and praiseworthy and commendable. We are to be pure, not have men think we are pure. We are to practice what we have learned. But notice the order, mediation comes first then action.

Application

Rejoicing in the Lord at all times is not easy to do. When we lose a loved one or a friend we do not feel like rejoicing. Paul is not saying we cannot or should not grieve a loss. Paul is not certain here of his fate. He may die. If that should happen the Philippians are to remember that God is in control. And all things are working together for His glory. (Romans 8:28) We may not understand how it does but we are to trust that it does and rejoice that God will receive praise and glory.

We know from experience that the joy of the world is deceptive, and fragile. Christ even cursed the joy of this world. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” (Luke 6:25b) The only settled joy is in God. It is a joy that is never taken away.

We are assured we will suffer insults and persecution. But, we should exercise self-control even while enduring these injuries, insults and accusations from others. It is God who has made us anew. Therefore, we are to suppress our carnal self who wants to rise up to reveals our sinful nature rather than the nature of Christ.

This is directly contrary to the advice given by carnal men. “It is a dog eat dog world. It is either eat or be eaten.” Therefore, we conclude from that, that we must respond in kind so insults and attacks do not go on with impunity. However, that is in direct conflict with what the apostle tells us. We are to bring glory to our Lord. Our wickedness must be suppressed when we encounter attacks. Would we not prefer to have the hand of God to protect us than have all the resource of the world at our disposal?

The focus or our prayer is to be praising God not fulfilling our desires. We often pray amiss. Our prayers are full of complaints and accusations. We even complain about the delay if God does not immediately grant our desires. We are narcissistic. But Paul reminds us our prayers are to be full of thanksgiving.

Bible study is not something we are to fill our head with. We may find the subject interesting. We may enjoy wrestle with difficult passages. There is nothing wrong with those things. In fact, they are the foundation of the Christian life. Be we must not end there. A house is that is only a foundation is no house at all. Paul tells us to do something. We are to practice the example he has laid out. We are to do what we have learned not just know it.

Be thankful and rejoice that you God has redeemed you. You are no longer what you once were. You are now a child of God. Now live like it. Pray, thanking Him for the knowledge of His word and ask for His help to bring glory to His name by fulfilling the commands He has given.

 

[1] The Complete Biblical Commentary Collection of John Calvin – Philippians 4:5

 

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