“Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, 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. 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. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 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. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 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. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” (Philippians 4, ESV)
Christians who have unresolved disagreements may hinder the cause of Christ. Dissension interrupts unity and peace. The church must proclaim the gospel, but she must also guard herself against quarrels within. We must strive to be slow to take offense and always eager to forgive one another. Paul asks a faithful companion and this community of faith to help these women be reconciled to one another. We must continually pursue peace and one another in love. They were in conflict, but they had labored with Paul for the sake of the gospel. It does not seem that there was a moral or doctrinal issue because it stands to reason that Paul would have addressed it as he did in other places. Conflict is a part of relationships, and we must walk humbly in a spirit of love.
Paul instructs the church to rejoice in the Lord. Joy is not just some call to sunny optimism that has no justification. John Piper defines joy this way: Christian joy is produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and the world. We should seek to be gracious and kind to everyone. Jesus is imminent, so we need not be filled with anxiety. We have the privilege of bringing our problems and needs to the Lord with the confidence that he cares for them, and he is sufficient. It is with thanksgiving that we come because we remember how gracious God has been to us. Those who come to Jesus will find peace and rest for their souls as that peace guards their hearts and minds. It is a glorious peace from the Lord that can be found even in the midst of chaos, difficulty, and conflict.
Paul suggests that thinking about the right things will help maintain that peace. We should think about:
- True things that correspond to God’s Word.
- Honorable things that have dignity and moral excellence.
- Just things that conform to God’s ethics.
- Pure things are things that are free of sin.
- Lovely things that are attractive and winsome like generosity, kindness, or compassion.
- Commendable things that foster an admirable reputation and a good name.
- If it is excellent or praiseworthy, we should think about it.
Paul has calls these readers to follow his example as he did on previous occasions in the book of Philippians. This call to practice what has been learned, received, heard, and seen is the essence of discipleship; follow me as I follow Christ. We are called to show the world what Jesus is like by the way that we live.
Paul thanks the Philippians for the gift they have sent him. Paul explains that he understands what it means to be content in all circumstances. The Philippians have been generous to Paul, and he sees their gift as a sacrifice which delights God. Paul speaks of contentment and thanksgiving from prison, facing death, a man who had been beaten, stoned, and hounded by his enemies. The basis for such contentment was found in his confidence that God was in control of his circumstances, and he could do everything through Christ, who gave him strength (4:13). Paul commended them for their generosity. From the first, even at great cost to themselves, they had shared with the apostle. Paul encourages this church to realize that God would meet all their needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Paul ends the letter as he began it, by addressing all the saints in Christ Jesus. He concludes by referring to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in and through whom peace, joy, and contentment will be found.