Here we are at the end of Philippians and this Book contains one of my top 5 favorite verses in the Bible–Philippians 4:8. But, before we go there, let’s unpack Chapter 4 from the beginning.
First things first. I am not a Bible scholar. I don’t have a degree in theology. I am just a woman who desperately wants to understand the Bible and develop a deeper walk with Jesus. I try my best to state truth and understanding. I pray that anything I say here that is untrue or misunderstood will be forgotten and only the good stuff is remembered.
Scripture: Slowly read and color code Philippians 4:1-3. It’s important to note Chapter 4 starts with “Therefore.” This is a connecting word and you’ll see it used throughout the Bible. This word connects everything Paul wrote before with his final portion of the letter. It’s like saying, “In conclusion, you must do this”.
Observation: These first 3 verses are packed with insight. “Therefore, my brethren, whom I love and long for, my delight and crown, thus stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.” Paul uses the ancient Greek word for the crown (a stephanos) which is a crowning achievement of an athlete versus a crown meant for a king. “…stand firm in the Lord…” was Paul’s trophy—and ours. It’s the grand prize.
I love how he called the Philippians his “beloved.” Don’t you? I wish we still talked like that to one another, calling each other “our beloved”.
The Bible is the number one selling book in the world with a whopping 3.9 billion copies sold over the last 50 years. The second best selling book doesn’t even come close to touching that number at 820 million copies. So, just think what it would be like to have your name in such a book for everyone to read thousands of years after we have died. What would you want it to say about you?
In verses 2 and 3 we find three women whose names we have not heard before. And two of them are bickering. (For the record, this is not how I would want to be mentioned in the Bible.) Euodia and Syntyche are advised by Paul to start getting along. We can only guess why they are not “working in harmony in the Lord” and why/how this information got back to Paul. It must have been an ongoing dispute, or why else mention it. Nothing like getting called out for bad behavior by Paul! Paul urges everyone reading his letter to help these women keep the peace, as “they have toiled along with me in the good news, as have Clement…” Be like Clement and the ones in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:15). Basically, everyone should get along, and don’t lose sight of what we are fighting for.
Scripture: Slowly read and color code verses 4:4-7. What common theme seen throughout Philippians is repeated here? “Rejoice in the Lord always” and be gentle with our fellow man, not just the ones we “want” to be nice too. Oh, there’s the “be nice to everyone” command again, even those we don’t like.
Observation: In verse 6 Paul commands us, “do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.” Prayer (PRAY)…Petition (ASK)…Thanksgiving (GIVE THANKS). This is another command from Paul.
Application: Doing these things will give you peace. This doesn’t mean you will have an easy life without hardship, pain, or anxiety. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek professional help from a health care provider for mental illness, therapy, trauma, and so on. This means the closer we get to this state of trusting God, of praying, having a relationship, and relying fulling on Him, the closer we will be content “which transcends all understanding.” That kind of peace I long for. The kind of peace realizing this is only earthly worries, they are meaningless. It’s easy for me to say living in the United States. We have it really, really good here. Still, a lot of people have a hard life. But, it’s the peace in where we are at the moment, not “I’ll be happy when…”, that we’ll truly be at peace.
Peace comes from God as a gift. Peace with God comes from a relationship with God. Peace of God comes from peace of mind, unruffled serenity which surpasses all understanding.
The last part of verse 7: “…mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” ‘Guard’ as in the military kind. The kind with a sword and shield and armor. The kind that fiercely protects. Don’t let the hatred and sinful nature of this world defeat the guard and convince your mind there is another way apart from Christ.
Scripture: Explore and color code 4:8. How do you guard your heart and mind? Paul tells us.
“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.”
Observation: Hold fast to whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise. Look. At. These. Things. These are the fruit and food for the mind—just like good nourishment for our bodies, if we put good things in our minds they stay in our hearts too.
Application: Much of living a Christian life comes down to our minds—how we think and act in the world. (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 10:5). What we choose to focus on matters a great deal.
What do you need to discard from your life that is holding your heart and mind captive? What junk food are you letting into your mind?
Scripture: Slowly read and color-code verses 9-13.
Observation: Thankfulness doesn’t really come naturally. It takes practice and mindfulness. In verse 10 Paul talks about financial support by Epaphroditus. Although he is thankful for that support, and it was good for them to give, he learned to be content with what he had or didn’t have. Whatever state Paul was in, he was thankful. His thankfulness wasn’t because he was needy. He won’t let the money take the place of his thankfulness to God.
Application: Where in your life can you learn to be more content?
Scripture: Read 4:13.
Observation: Unfortunately, this verse gets misrepresented a lot. Let’s settle it once and for all.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
This doesn’t imply we have a super-Christian mentality because of Christ. Although that would be pretty awesome. It also is not a mantra to complete your life-long goals, an inspirational poster to hang on the wall. This verse, when put into context with the verses before, means Paul had the ability to be content in all things in life because of his faith and confidence in Christ who gave him the strength to survive the hardship in prison. He had the peace that “transcends all understanding.”
He Lived it.
He modeled it.
He practiced it.
Application: We too can be content even in times of suffering because of our relationship with God.
Scripture: Slowly read verses 14-23. I want to point out a few important tidbits.
Observation: Paul states it is good and noble of Philippi to send money and to share in his hardships. He is thankful but there is something more important to him than money.
In verse 15 note the words “in the early days of the Gospel ministry.” Here he refers to the early days of the church planting (Acts 16). He goes on to say, “…no church entered into a partnership with me…except only you.” No church wanted a part of what Paul was laying down except Philippi. He even notes they were the only ones who sent money in Thessalonica, not once but twice. He reminds them he is thankful but much more interested in the fruit they are harvesting than the gifts they can provide.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit…”
In verse 18 Paul refers to a “fragrant odor”. This reference reminds them of Old Testament offerings; he is giving them something to relate too. Ephesians 5:2 uses this same terminology.
Verse 20: Amen. This translation of Amen is borrowed from the Hebrew meaning “So be it.” It is a confident and joyful affirmation.
Verse 19 is just one verse but is heavy in meaning. All our needs are an empty vessel. God fills that vessel according to His riches and for his glory. In Christ is how He fills our vessels. Sometimes what we want isn’t what we need. God knows what we need. We need a relationship with Him.
Then in verse 22, he says, “All the saints wish to be remembered…” Saints mean all Christians, not just a select few.
In verse 23, circle the word ‘grace’. Our Christian life begins and ends with grace. Paul’s letter to Philippi begins and ends with the word grace. Flip back to Philippians 1:2, circle the word ‘grace’. What a beautiful reminder!
Fact: Paul wrote 28% of the New Testament. Four of those books were written in prison. Paul is a great come-back story. From Saul, the Jesus follower persecutor too Paul, the biggest voice in the Christian church. He is an example of why everyone deserves a second chance. Everyone deserves a chance at redemption and salvation. Amen.
Prayer: Dear Lord, Help me be more like Paul with the peace that transcends all understanding. I want it. I crave it. In God’s name, I pray, Amen.
You can find the earlier Bible studies of Philippians here:
Study resources and research for this Philippians Bible study: cru.org, enduringword.com, The Everyday Life Bible, Amplified Version, and Relationship Matters: A Creative Bible Study Journal