This Bible Study is part of the "Philippians" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
Paul concludes his letter to the church of Philippi, demonstrating once again his strong feelings for the brethren at Philippi. He encouraged them to be unified in real harmony and to find real joy in their way of life. He concludes, once again, by thanking them for their support of the Work of God through Paul.
Greetings, again! In the fourth chapter of Philippians, Paul concludes his letter to the church of Philippi, demonstrating once again his strong feelings for the brethren at Philippi. He encouraged them to be unified in real harmony and to find real joy in their way of life. He concludes, once again, by thanking them for their support of the Work of God through Paul. This is an excellent formula for every Christian’s success. We will look at it in a little more detail, beginning in Chapter 4, Verse 1.
Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown [You can just feel Paul’s attachment to the Philippians. They were his joy. They were his crown. They were the principal church that supported him and gave him really no real problems as opposed to some of the other churches.], so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.
"Hang in there, Philippians," is what he was trying to get across. Of course, one way to do this is found in Verse 2. He says:
I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.
Paul wanted these two women to get their attitudes in harmony. They were not in total harmony. It was not just a matter of one being right and one being wrong. They had, apparently, an attitude problem.
And I urge you also, true companion [This word translated "companion" from the Greek can also be translated "yoke fellow," which is an actual Greek name. Paul was apparently encouraging this individual to help bring these two women together. It was important to Paul that there be total harmony in spirit within the church at Philippi.], help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also [Clement was also another co-worker of Paul who was part of the original group of converts at Philippi.], and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
"The Book of Life" is an actual record that God has, of all of those who have been converted and will be in the family of God—the Kingdom of God—if they remain faithful. In Revelation 3:5, Christ says: "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life." Revelation 21:27 says that those who are present in the New Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem, are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. So there actually is a book in which God records our names when we receive His spirit—and when we remain faithful in that way of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Over and over again, we find that true Christians have great joy. They should have great joy as a result of living that way of life that brings true happiness. God’s way of life and God’s spiritual laws are the blueprint of human happiness.
Let your gentleness be known to all men [Gentleness is being considerate, being unselfish and even yielding one’s rights for the good of others.]. The Lord is at hand.
Paul is referring the Philippians to the big picture. "The Lord is at hand," or will soon be at hand. At Christ’s return, all human differences will seem totally insignificant. We must work together in gentleness.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Paul encourages the Philippians to be anxious for nothing. In other words: "Don’t get all stressed out." We are told that when we have real needs, we can take them to God. Paul tells the Philippians here to take them to God—to pass that burden on to God. Christ told us in Matthew 6:33 that if we put first the coming Kingdom of God, and His righteousness—that is, His character and way of life—He promises that all of our needs will be met.
And the peace of God [which gives us tremendous peace, knowing with assurance that God will provide all of our needs], which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Yes, it surpasses all understanding—that is, the understanding of those who don’t know God. But we can have that peace—and we can understand that peace.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things.
Of course, life can be difficult at times. But if we keep focused mentally on the way of life, if we keep focused mentally on the future in the family of God, we can have a very positive mindset—and it will be our reality.
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me [Paul being their example], these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Paul was their former teacher. He established the church at Philippi and he again encouraged them to follow his example as he followed Christ. The verse says: "and the God of peace will be with you." God wants us to have peace, and to have peace of mind in our life in the present. This is one of the fruits—one of the evidences—of the Spirit of God, when we are obeying God and following the very Spirit of God.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.
Paul was expressing his joy, one more time, for their recent contribution to the Work of God. He says that they "lacked opportunity" for a while. Possibly they did not have anyone to carry the gifts or the provisions from Philippi to Rome. But in time, those provisions made it to Paul.
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.
Paul did have a previous need, but he had also learned to be content. It is not a normal part of our nature to be content, but we can learn—as Paul learned—to be content, knowing that this life is simply training for the abundant life to come in the family of God.
I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Paul did have his time of prosperity, apparently—possibly before his conversion. And he had his years of need, even being imprisoned in Rome. But he had learned to trust God in every situation in life.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Paul’s real strength did not lie within himself, but he was fortified by Jesus Christ who lived His life in him. This is the same strength that can empower us—or anyone who receives the Spirit of God.
Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.
Even though it was actually Christ who supplied Paul’s needs, Paul wanted the Philippians to know that they had done well in being used, and in being willingto be used by God in this manner. We are told in James 1:17: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights." Ultimately, the provisions for Paul’s well being in Rome came from God—from Jesus Christ. But the Philippians supplied the physical needs.
Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.
Paul remembered an earlier time, approximately ten years before, when he was leaving Macedonia. The Philippians were the only ones to contribute to his needs, and to the Work of God through him.
For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.
Here is an additional example of the Philippians’ support for the Work of God and for Paul. When Paul was in Thessalonica, the Philippians again sent aid. Truly, the Philippians understood the spiritual principle taught by Christ, quoted in Acts 20:35: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." The Work of God has always been supported by the financial support of the people of God in tithes and offerings. Christ reminded the leaders of His day that even tithing—that is, supporting the very Work of God and the agenda of God—should be done and not left undone. In fact, this is stated in Matthew 23:23. Christ said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone." Jesus Christ was clearly approving of the tithes and offerings to support the Work of God. It has always been in effect. In the New Testament, we can see the evidence of that through the Philippians. They were supporting the Work of God through Paul.
Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.
Paul’s highest priority was their spiritual growth, rather than the physical necessities of life. Their spiritual growth was demonstrated by their willingness to give to the Work of God.
Indeed I have all and abound. I am full [Paul’s immediate needs were fully met. At the moment he did not need more.], having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
The support of the Work of God through Paul was considered a sacrificial offering to God. God was well pleased with the Philippians’ support of the Work of God.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
God would do what Paul could not do in this case—continually supply their needs as they supported the Work of God. It is a spiritual principle of God that those who give generously to the Work of God in this life are promised to have all their needs supplied and met in this life. Of course, God is not short of resources and He can do that.
Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul closes by honoring our great God, the One who gives us life and breath and even, eventually, eternal life.
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. [Paul sends his greetings to every saint in Philippi, whom he looks at as his spiritual family at that time.] The brethren who are with me greet you.
Timothy and Epaphroditus, who were close by his side in his efforts, sent their greetings as well.
All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household.
These saints were apparently doing the imperial service at Caesar’s household, maybe even serving on the imperial palace guard.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Paul closed the book to the Philippians by asking for the grace of Jesus Christ to be with them all. Paul wanted them to continue to receive God’s grace and blessings—all of them undeserved blessings, but blessings and forgiveness that come from God when we obey Him and give our life to Him.
In these four short chapters, we have seen a strong formula for spiritual success—a call for unity and harmony among church members, a need to develop the very mind and character of Jesus Christ and a desire to fully support the very Work of God. The book of Philippians is a small snapshot of the early Apostolic Church, but it is equally a formula of success for today. Speaking of the Apostolic Church, we have a booklet that addresses this subject: Restoring Apostolic Christianity. You can receive that booklet by simply clicking the "Order FREE" button and completing the online form.
This concludes our study of the book of Philippians. This is Jeff Fall for the Living Church of God.