Philippians 4:1-9 - Prepare Him Room: How-to Live-in Joy
Phil. 4:1) Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. 2) I urge Euodia, and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3) Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. 4) Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice. 5) Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6) Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8) Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellent and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9) Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Background: Controversy has erupted in the church in Philippi. This church, one of Paul’s most beloved and faithful, threatens to be split by an argument between two of its most influential and beloved leaders, Euodia and Syntyche. In Philippi, as opposed to most of the ancient world, women and men shared power and authority in almost every arena of life. This was also reflected in the church. These women were deacons and spiritual leaders. This is not just a personality dispute, but also a real crisis in the church. Not only are they being undermined by Jewish missionaries who are confusing them about the importance of the law, they are being torn apart from within over other issues. We do not know what the controversy was between these two women and their camps. Apparently, that was not what was important to Paul. What mattered to him was that their different opinions threatened to destroy the church.
Vs. 1 – crown – the wreath of wild olive leaves laced with parsley and bay given to victors of athletic competitions.
Stand firm – plant oneself immovably.
Vs. 2 – urge – very strong word, plead, implore, beg. Paul uses the word twice to indicate that it applies to both women equally. One is not right and therefore exempt from this demand. He is taking no sides.
Be of the same mind – again a very strong phrase difficult to capture in English. He is not asking them to agree cognitively. He is demanding that they come together, bind themselves together in spirit and attitude. He is calling for a whole person oneness.
In the Lord – this is the only possible way for them to accomplish their oneness = they are to imitate the Lord.
Vs. 3 – my loyal companion – it is not clear in Greek just who or even what group to which Paul refers here.
Struggled – contended, refers to the strenuous athletic competition or to the hard work of fighting side by side as gladiators in an arena. He is indicating forcefully here that these women were part of his team in spreading the Gospel.
Book of Life – official register with names of all citizens.
Vs. 4 – Rejoice – here rejoicing is an attitude, not just a feeling.
Always – in all situations
In the Lord – same phrase as used to tie Euodia and Syntyche together. In the Lord makes oneness possible. In the Lord also makes rejoicing possible.
Vs. 5 – gentleness – (toward others), the attitude of graciousness and magnanimity that is shown in situations when one could legitimately stand on ones ‘rights. Any yet, for the sake of others does not insist on those rights. (Richard Peace)
The Lord is near – could refer to the second coming or to the reality that Christ is always near via the Spirit.
Vs. 6 – do not worry – or be anxious. For Paul, worry and anxiety indicated a lack of confidence in the Lord.
Prayer, supplication, requests – Paul uses these words synonymously here to reinforce the notion that in every situation one is to come before God will all ones needs.
Thanksgiving – indicates that we are confident of God’s goodness and power in our difficulties.
Vs. 7 – the peace of God – used only here in New Testament. Not peace with God or peace from God. This refers to God’s very nature. It is the experience of God’s inner character that God is offering to share with the people.
Surpasses all understanding – we can never fully understand the wonder of God’s character. This is a gentle reminder that to try to do so is not only futile but robs us of the experience itself.
Guard – the garrison of soldiers charged with guarding all sides of a city.
Hearts – interior essence, will plus emotions
Minds – purposes
Vs. 8 – true – real, refers to sincerity and accuracy in thought, word, deed, and attitude.
Honorable – noble, those majestic things that command respect and lift one’s mind from the mundane
Just – right, giving to God and others that which is their due in God’s realm of accounting.
Pure – holy, free from sin in aspects of life
Pleasing – agreeable, lovely, a pleasant, friendly person who calls forth love from others.
Commendable – admirable, good without debate
Excellence – a word from Stoic philosophy, refers to moral excellence.
Worthy of praise - refers to behavior that is universally praised, both by those within and those outside the faith.
Think about – think critically about, put the best of your mind toward grasping.
Vs. 9 – learned, received, etc – what they got in their church training lessons from Paul.
Questions for Personal reflection
- Many of us have been involved in church or family disputes so these words are always timely. How might Paul’s approach and ideas help in that kind of situation?
- Paul indicates that a key to joy is choosing a proper mindset. What are the aspects of such a mindset?
- What do you spend most of your time thinking about? Do you find that what you think about most is helpful or hurtful to you in terms of your peace of mind or of solving your problems?
- One of the ways to ‘clean the stable’ to prepare for deeper experience of Christ is to add more rejoicing. What can you find to rejoice about today? See if you can identify 10 things. They can be as simple as a comfortable chair or as magical as loved ones.