What can we learn from Philippians chapter 4? Here is a personal Bible commentary and life application to what is called “The Joy Letter.”
Philippians Chapter Four
Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.”
Paul calls these brothers and sisters in Christ his “joy and crown” meaning that he must have planted this church and brought them into the faith and considers himself as their spiritual father like he did Timothy (1 Tim 1:2) and tells them to stand firm in what they know is the truth.
Philippians 4:3 “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.”
This church was perhaps Pauls’ favorite church and it is because they brought him so much joy. They labored in the gospel like Clement and other “fellow workers” and Paul reassures them that their names are written “in [God’s] book of life” and God has no eraser for those who are in this book.
Philippians 4:4-6 “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.”
Anxiety is a problem for most Christians but Paul is giving a command to “not be anxious for anything [instead] in everything by prayer and supplication (prayer requests) with thanksgiving” we are to “let our [prayer] requests be made known to God” so being anxious is not being thankful for what we do have because we simply have to ask and trust God to supply our every need, but not our every want.
Philippians 4:7 “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The peace of God is beyond human understanding but this God-given peace is a gift and enable that our hearts and minds be guarded from our anxieties because we are “in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7 “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.”
How do we guard our hearts and minds? To think about things that are “true (like the permanence of your salvation),that are honorable (giving others due respect and showing honor to all, the saved and unsaved), that are just (so that your life will reflect godly values in always doing what is right and lawful), that is pure (what better way to think pure thoughts than daily being in the Word of God), that is lovely (what is more lovely than Christ being in you?), and commendable (for we are saved for good works that God has beforehand appointed for us to do; e.g. Eph 2:10), in all excellence (in whatever you find your hand to do, do it with all your might or the best you can; e.g. Eccl 9:10; Col 3:23), and think about things that are “worthy of praise” for God’s bringing us so great a salvation (Heb 2:3) by the Great King and Savior.
Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
If we have shelter, food, and employment, we have enough and godliness is found in contentment because if a person is content with what they have they show that they are thankful to God. If anyone knew how to abound in hunger and need, it was Paul. We can do all things, in poverty, want, and need, but only in “Him (Christ) who strengthens” us. The opposite of this is of ourselves, we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Philippians 4:15 “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.”
The church at Philippi was one of the poorest of all of the churches, yet they gave the most proportionately. This matches what the polls indicate; the ones who give the most to charities are the ones who have the least and the ones who have the most give the least. When we support those who are proclaiming the gospel we have “entered into partnership” with them and with God in saving those who are lost.
Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
This is one of the most quoted and perhaps misquoted of all Bible verses, next to “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Phil 4:13) because we sometimes mix up the Scriptures that says “God will supply every need of yours” and these riches are unfathomable because they are “according to his riches.” Who has deeper pockets than God, yet He says that He will supply our every need, not our every greed. It is easy to seek riches but the true riches are found “in Christ Jesus” and not in the world’s wealth. Our treasures are not in this world but in the world to come where rust, moths, or decay cannot touch them (Matt 6:19-20).
The Book of Philippians has been called the Joy Book because this church made Paul so joyful. This church gave out of their poverty, they gave when they had little, they learned to be content with what they had, thereby being co-laborers with Paul in the proclamation of the gospel. We too can enter into the harvest when we share the gospel with the lost and we support those who do. If you are not saved, then there are many believers who want to tell you how to have peace with God (Rom 5:1) and to escape the coming wrath of God (Rev 20:11-15). There is only one way to escape this wrath (Acts 4:12; 16:30-31) and it is by repentance and faith in Christ. If you believe in Him (Rom 10:9-13) God will see you as having the same righteousness as Christ has(2 Cor 5:21). Please don’t put this off (2 Cor 6:2) because He could return at any moment (Matt 24:36-51) and no one is guaranteed that they will live past today (Prov 27:1; James 4:13-14).
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon