Daily Devotion Text

December 28, 2022

Philippians 4 Commentary

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4:3 Reconciliation often requires third-party intervention, in this case a true companion. This person is unnamed in the ESV, although the word (Gk. syzygos, “true yokefellow,” see ESV footnote) could be read as a proper name. Paul is especially eager to see Euodia and Syntyche reconciled because they have labored side by side with him in the gospel. Cf. 1:27, where Paul also encourages unity among those who are “striving side by side” (Gk. synathleō, the same verb used here) for the gospel. Paul did not isolate himself and minister alone; he deliberately worked with many others. In view of first-century culture, Euodia and Syntyche probably ministered mainly among women (cf. notes on Acts 18:26; Rom. 16:7; 1 Tim. 2:12). The book of life has OT roots (e.g., Ex. 32:33; Ps. 69:28; cf. Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27) and refers to God’s record of those who belong to him.[1]

4:4 Rejoice. The joy that Paul calls for is not a happiness that depends on circumstances but a deep contentment that is in the Lord, based on trust in the sovereign, living God, and that therefore is available always, even in difficult times.

4:5 Reasonableness is crucial for maintaining community; it is the disposition that seeks what is best for everyone and not just for oneself. The Lord is at hand emphasizes the fact that Jesus will surely return as judge and will hold people responsible for their deeds (cf. James 5:9). Paul does not specify when this will happen (cf. Matt. 24:36–44; 2 Pet. 3:1–13).

4:6–7 Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt. 6:25–34) that believers are not to be anxious but are to entrust themselves into the hands of their loving heavenly Father, whose peace will guard them in Christ Jesus. Paul’s use of “guard” may reflect his own imprisonment or the status of Philippi as a Roman colony with a military garrison. In either case, it is not Roman soldiers who guard believers—it is the peace of God Almighty. Because God is sovereign and in control, Christians can entrust all their difficulties to him, who rules over all creation and who is wise and loving in all his ways (Rom. 8:31–39). An attitude of thanksgiving contributes directly to this inward peace.

4:8 think about these things. The Philippians are to fill their minds with things that will inspire worship of God and service to others.

4:9 Beyond having a proper spiritual outlook (v. 8), the Philippians are to practice what they have seen Paul doing. As they make progress in this way, they will find that it is not simply the peace of God but the God of peace himself who will be with them.[2]

4:10–11 Paul is grateful for the Philippians’ support, but he wants them to know that even in difficult circumstances he has learned … to be content.

4:12–13 The secret of living amid life’s difficulties is simple: trusting God in such a way that one can say, I can do all things through him who strengthens me. This does not mean God will bless whatever a person does; it must be read within the context of the letter, with its emphasis on obedience to God and service to God and others.[3]

[1] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2286). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 2286–2287). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2287). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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