Philippians 4:1-20 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Rejoice in the Lord
Comments for Study 4

Philippians 4:1-20
Memory Verse: 4


I. The Secrets of Rejoicing in the Lord (1-7)

>1. How did Paul regard the Philippian Christians? (1)

* Philippians 4:1 "Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!"

* "Therefore" -The following is a result of the resurrection mentioned in the previous verse.

* "you whom I love and long for" -Paul wanted to be with them. He states his affection for them more than any other letter.

* "my joy and crown" -Those we lead to the Lord and raise up in the word of God will result in a reward awaiting to be given.

* "that is how you should stand firm" -Keeping an eye on our future is hope that transcends the troubles and hardships of this world.

* "stand firm in the Lord" -Having a mature relationship with Jesus.

>In what respect did they reflect gospel faith? (3:3, 17-21)

* Philippians 3:3 "For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh"

* Philippians 3:17-21 "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

* They worship by the Spirit, they glory in Christ Jesus, they put no confidence in the flesh, they follow Paul's example who followed Christ, and they know they have citizenship in heaven.

>How did they show their world mission faith practically? (10, 15)

* Philippians 4:10 "I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it."

* Philippians 4:15 "Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only"

* They gave to world missions. They supported Paul who was on the mission to share the gospel to others.

>2. What does Paul's admonition to Euodia and Syntyche show about his regard for women in the work of the church? (2-3)

* Philippians 4:2-3 "I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life."

* "to agree with each other in the Lord" -Throughout this letter Paul had been hinting at a discord. Here we see what it was. Two women did not agree. They must have been important in the church to be such a concern to Paul. Since the first converts were important women in the city, it seems that these are the same who did not agree on something.

* "loyal yokefellow" -The rest of the congregation needed to be loyal despite of the arguing. "Yokefellow" gives the impress of two oxen yoked together to plow the field.

* "in the cause of the gospel" -They worked for the gospel work by supporting Paul's ministry. They were the ones who must have contributed a lot (see above) to Paul's mission trips since there were good business women there.

* "book of life" -The names of those who will be saved are on the book of life.

* Paul personally addressed two women, Euodia and Syntyche to agree in the Lord and asked the rest of the congregation to do all they could to ensure that these women get along (2,3).

If I were to write a letter to my friends in the Lord, who would I address? What would I say to them that would help them in their stance in the Lord (1)? If the list of Christian names whom I consider friends are short and/or I struggle to know what to say to help them, then I need to work on personally connecting with other believers in the Lord.

Jesus taught that the world would know his disciples by the love we share. He prayed, "I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (John 17:23) Christian community is something that I am working on since I moved to a new state.

>3. What did Paul say here about rejoicing?

* Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"

* After the name of Jesus Paul repeats this phrase the most. We can conclude that the arguing made it hard to rejoice.

>Why did he state this admonition as an imperative?

* Not agreeing and not rejoicing would stifle their spiritual growth and the advance of the gospel.

* It would discourage others, namely Paul.

>How can one always rejoice? (5b)

* Philippians 4:5b "The Lord is near."

* The Lord is in the hearts of believers. He is with us through the Spirit. We can come to him anytime in prayer.

* The Lord is coming again soon, very soon. He is coming to take us home. He is coming to set us free from this sinful generations. He is coming to set us free from the body of decay. He is coming to set us free from oppressive and self serving leaders and governments.

* Philemon 1:6 states, "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ."

* Numbers 10:29 records, "Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law, "We are setting out for the place about which the Lord said, 'I will give it to you.' Come with us and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised good things to Israel."

* Deuteronomy 6:10-11 records, "When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you--a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant--then when you eat and are satisfied,"

* Many Christians have self manufactured joy. Many more wear masks of joy while having sad hearts. We have forgotten where good things come from, the Lord. How can we have real joy. Paul tell us, go to the Lord who is near you, waiting to spend some quality time with you.

>What is the significance of "in the Lord"? (4)

* "in the Lord" -"In the Lord" means in consideration of his will. What he has done, what he is doing, and what he wants and plans to do. When a ancient king wanted to do something he appointed someone to do it. That persons was acting in the King's will. He had to accomplish the kings will and had the kings authority to accomplish it. He could not let his own ideas and goals get in the way. He did not have to worry about his own needs because the king would ensure that he was well feed and healthy, after all he was acting in the kings interest.

>4. What is true gentleness? (5a; Gen. 18; Mt. 11:29)

* Philippians 4:5a "Let your gentleness be evident to all."

* Matthew 11:29 "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

* A good and gentle hostess waiting on tables gets the best tips.

>5. How can Christians overcome anxiety and have God's peace in their hearts? (6-7)

* Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

* "anxious" -nervous, worry, and fret.

* "anything" -in this life

* "but in everything" -We are to bring everything to the Lord Jesus in prayer. We can not hide anything from God. He need to pray humbly and honestly, in spirit and truth. I've often wondered and have concluded that the Lord wants us to pray out loud, even if we are all alone. For though no human is around, the angles may be around.

* "prayer" -This would be the normal Christian life talking to God.

* "petition" -Petitions are desperate pleas with fasting and strong continual praying.

* "thanksgiving" -If there is no gratitude then the prayer is not good.

* "request" -A request to the Lord is displayed by Abraham when he petitioned the Lord concerning Lot who was in Sodom. The Lord had told Abraham that he was going to destroy the city. Lot lived in it. Abraham presented his request to the LORD to save Lot and his family.

* "peace of God" -The peace of God is a gift of the Holy Spirit. When we go to the LORD in prayer in spirit and truth the LORD will give us his peace if we ask. The peace of God is greater than any thing this world has to offer. One task of it and the future is often thought of for the peace of God we receive now is a down deposit for the great kingdom to come.

* "which transcends all understanding" -even though Paul was in jail he was rejoicing and at peace. This goes against the worlds ways and thinking.

* "guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" -We are to seek Jesus and he will guard our hearts and minds. Do we have trouble and problem. He can guard it if we go to him.

* J. Vernon McGee wrote, "We have seen the philosophy of Christian living, the pattern for Christian living, the prize for Christian living, and now we shall see the power for Christian living. All the others would be meaningless and useless if there were no power for them. A philosophy of life is no good if we cannot achieve the goal. Therefore power is all important."

* What is that power. Verses 6 and 7 tell us. What is the result of going to the Lord in prayer? His joy and peace.

II. Think About Something Excellent and Praiseworthy (8-9)

>6. What should Christians think about?

* Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

* We need to train our minds. We need discipline that comes from the Lord the change our pattern of thinking.

* The state of mind left unchecked quickly deteriorates until it is totally negative and evil for the fallen nature's desires are constantly enticed by the world. A stable, positive, peaceful, and pleasing state of mind is a constant conscious decision until it becomes routine, primary, and rudimentary. God's peace through Christ Jesus guards my heart and mind (7).

Rejoicing in the Lord is the main theme of this letter (4), written by Paul while awaiting trial with either a verdict of death or innocence. Rejoicing in the Lord at all times in any life situation is a conscious decision. Elation and cheer in Jesus are not always easy, but they always become positive, peaceful, and pleasing when sincere.

Anxiety is a state of mind that is part of the fallen nature. It is fed by the rejection of the truth that God loves and cares. The Lord Jesus is right here in me and around me (5). He is ready to listen and help. Anxiety is controlled and subdued with talking to Jesus about that which causes me to be anxious. Prayer with a thanksgiving heart is what is intended to overcome an anxious mindset (6

I can and should decide to think in a way that is ultimately for my own good. I can choose to think about "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, anything excellent or praiseworthy (8). A mind that houses negative and evil thoughts is cold, drafty, damp, and rotting away. It is destined to fall. A mind that houses positive and godly thoughts is warm, comfy, full of pleasing scents and joy..

>Why is one's inner thought life so important? (Matt. 12:34; 15:18-20)

* Matthew 12:34 "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."

* Matthew 15:18-20 "But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'"

* Even if we think of evil it is a sin and unacceptable to God.

* Even thought bears the fruit of evil actions. Good thoughts bears the fruits of the work of the Spirit for the Spirit only shies away from a sinful heart.

>Why is it hard to think about things that are excellent and praiseworthy in our present world? (Gal. 5:17-18)

* Galatians 5:17-18 "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law."

* From conception humans inherit a nature that is prone to sin. The power of sin in the unsaved is greater than the will to live a righteous life. The sinful nature does not go away when Jesus cleanses us of sin. Sins are removed, but the sinful nature is still in us. Yet, he does not leave us there. In this age of grace the Lord Jesus has sent us the Holy Spirit who is more powerful than our sinful nature. Yet the Spirit does not force us to decide to do what is right and to resist doing what is wrong. The Lord is gentle. So we have a choice to accept the power and will of the Spirit of God or to submit to the sinful nature in us. Within the cleansed believer is this spiritual battle. The battle is not against flesh and blood. The battle is against the sinful nature in us. It is a continuous and power thing. But he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world, the tempter. The chose we need to make, chose the Lord's joy and peace, or chose the empty promises of the sinful nature.

>How can we do this? (2 Tim. 2:22; Acts 7:55)

* 2 Timothy 2:22 "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

* Acts 7:55 "But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."

* We need to look to Jesus in prayer. We must keep our eyes on Jesus.

>7. What does it mean to think about "whatever is noble"?

* Nobility implies pure quality and even excellence.

* "In classical Greek an epithet of the gods, venerable, reverend. The word occurs only here and in the pastoral epistles, 1 Tim. 38,11; Tit. 2:2, where it is rendered grave (in some translations). There lies in it the idea of a dignity or majesty which is yet inviting and attractive, and which inspires reverence. Grave, as Trech observed, does not exhaust the meaning. gravity may be ridiculous. "The word we want is one in which the sense of gravity and dignity, and of these is inviting reverence, is combined." Ellicott's venerable is perhaps as near as any word, if venerable be devised of its modern conventional sense as imply age, and confined to it original sense, worthy of reverence." (Word Studies in the New Testament, Vincent)

>8. Why is it important to think about pure things?

* God is pure and nothing inpure can stand in God's presents.

* It helps us to grow spiritually because we get to know Jesus more.

* 1 John 1:5-7 states, "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."

>9. What can we learn? (9)

* Philippians 4:9 "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

* "you have learned" -We need to practically study. The moment we become Christians we do not suddenly get revelation of all. Humans need to learn. Even Jesus learned. (Heb. 5:8)

* "or received" -Paul gave examples through his life.

* "or heard" -Paul taught the word of God wherever he went.

* "from me" -We can learn by studying the Bible.

* "put into practice" -Learning alone is not enough. We must practice what we learned. Jesus was very clear with this.

* "And" -meaning the result is peace of God.

* Jesus tells us, "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:25-27)

III. The Secret of Being Content in all Circumstances (10-20)

>10. What did Paul say in verse 11?

* Philippians 4:11 "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."

* "content" -Satisfied, peaceful happiness.

* "Literally, self-sufficient." Only here in the New Testament. A stoic word, expressing the favorite doctrine of the sect, that man should be sufficient to himself for all things; able, by the power of his own will, to resist the shock of circumstance. Paul is self-sufficient through the power of the new self; not he, but Christ in him. The kindred noun sufficiency, occurs 2 Cor. 9:8; and 1 Tim. 6:6." (Word Studies in the New Testament, Vincent)

* Paul says the way to be always content is a secret (12). Continuous happiness and cheerfulness no matter the life circumstances is a secret because many do not know how to maintain this state. Also, so many promises to deliver contentment come alone that never intend to deliver. We grow to accept that it is impossible to always be in that state of cheerfulness and happiness.

Most are like wheat in the meadow. They bend this way and that in mood swings caused by winds of living in want and then plenty. Being short of money because an unexpected bill comes changes the mood from contentment to anxiety.

Paul gives up the secret on how to be in a perpetual state of peaceful happiness. He says he learned the secret of being content in any and every situation (12). Everyone must learn this. Babies seem to reach the deepest contentment until they need their mother's milk or a set of clean clothes.

The secret is found in verse 13. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." This ties into yesterday's Bible Daily Bread Devotional. Read it again.

Then meditate on verses 6 and 7. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, with guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

>Why is it so hard for human beings to be content in good circumstances or bad?

* We always want more. We are never satisfied. Without the love and peace of God we are never satisfied.

* The heart of those without Christ are always looking for satisfaction. They wonder from here to there. They try one thing than another. They are never satified for good. They may be satified for a moment, but then the moment is gone and can not be regained. So they move on to something else. At the end of their life they are bitter and empty or depressed and beaten.

>What was Paul's secret to overcome himself in all circumstances? (12-13, 19)

* Philippians 4:12-13 "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

* Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

* "through him who gives me strength" -Jesus is the secret Paul found. Jesus satisfies the soul of the restless heart.

* "glorious riches in Christ Jesus" -Jesus created us and therefore knows what pleases us. He said, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:9-12)

* Perhaps you are saying to yourself. I have confessed my sins and asked for forgiveness. I have asked Jesus to be Lord of my life. At first it was great. But now I've lost that initial joy and peace. What happened? Don't ask what happened, ask what didn't happen. Your relationship with Jesus did not deepen, you did not grow in him, but pulled away from him. This study is very clear, go to him in prayer.

* Love is an emotion and more. Love is expressed in actions and words. Love is a verb and a noun. God is love. Jesus loves me. Jesus taught me to love by example with his sacrificial death, and by word with loving my neighbor like the Samaritan.

The Philippian congregation expressed their love for God and Paul by supporting Paul's ministry (15,16). They practically showed deep concern for Paul's troubles (14). Tithing to the church I attend is an expression of love for God, the pastors, and the entire congregation.

Tithing is a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God (18). God showed Adam and Eve the way of sacrifice by killing an innocent lamb to cover their shame when they sinned. Noah sacrificed after the flood. Abraham sacrificed. God taught Israel not only to sacrifice but how to sacrifice. Tithing is an acceptable sacrifice for the body of Christ.

Tithing isn't always easy. Yet I can trust God when he says he will meet all my needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (19).

>What does this suggest about our real problem? (20)

* Philippians 4:20-23 "To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar's household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."

* The true believer acknowledges God in all things in humble praise to God.


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