As Paul nears the end of this epistle, he has some final exhortations concerning certain members of the Philippian congregation and for the members in general, especially pertaining to joy (4.2-9).
Peace in the Church (2-3)
Paul requests for the church to help two sisters agree in the Lord.
2I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.
I entreat Euodia: a lady who is a member of the Philippian church whose name means “fragrance.” Unfortunately, it seems she is not spreading the fragrance of Christ since she is involved in a divisive dispute with her sister in Christ.
I entreat Syntyche: another female member whose name means “good luck.” Some suggest these ladies may have hosted (rival) house churches—one Jewish, the other Gentile. However, this is mere speculation for precious little is said about who exactly these women were. What we do know is that Paul earnestly pleads with these two women to…
Agree in the Lord: This is something which needs to characterize the entire Body of Christ (1.27; 2.2, 5). Employ the mind and think the same thing. Whatever it is that is causing this friction, bury it. Both are “in the Lord” and the double “entreat” may indicate both are at fault.
3Yes, 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.
Yes, I ask you also, true companion: or Syzygus (ESV footnote). Scholars differ over whether this is a proper name or not. Many ideas exist as to who this person is: Paul’s wife (though this is a masculine noun with masculine adjective), some leader among the Philippians, a husband or brother of the two ladies (Chrysostom), Timothy or Epaphroditus or Lydia (if not a proper name). The Philippians and the person himself knew who Paul meant.
Help these women: “Help” indicates that both the women will do their best to work for peace in addition to what “true companion” will do. Indeed, he merely joins work in progress.
Who have labored…the book of life: These women played a prominent role in the spread of the gospel in Philippi. In the face of opposition, the locked arms with the apostle and his co-workers and advanced the kingdom. Clement, someone known to the Philippians (why name him if they didn’t), could verify this. Indeed, Euodia and Syntyche have their names written in the book of life, “the roll of the citizens of the heavenly kingdom” (Caffin 156; see also, Ex 32.32; Dan 12.1; Rev 3.5; 13.8; 17.8; et al).
Peace from God (4-7)
All anxiety and worry is to be given to God in prayer so that God’s peace can permeate our entire life.
4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Rejoice in the Lord always: cf. 3.1; 1 Thess 5.16. Paul returns to the central theme of this epistle. Only “in the Lord” can people find true joy—Christ in us and we in Him. Since Christians have fellowship with God and God lives among and with us, joy abides with us as we keep these objective truths ever before us. It comes down to what we think (see 4.8).
Again I will say, rejoice: Paul “never wearies of repeating that holy joy is a chief Christian duty” (Caffin 156). “The purest, highest, truest joy is to fill the Christian life like sunshine” (Lenski 874). “I will” is future tense—this will be Paul’s constant theme in life.
5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
Let your reasonableness…to everyone: or “gentleness” (NIV, NKJV). This is a characteristic of Christ (see 2 Cor 10.1). It is an attitude of gracious forbearance which does not insist upon it’s own rights or way. Refusing to retaliate when attacked is allowing the joy of the Lord to shine forth. “Everyone” indicates that more than just church is in view; non-Christians need to experience (root Gk ginosko) the magnanimity of Christians (cf. 2.15).
The Lord is at hand: Psa 119.151. Cf. 1 Cor 16.22 (“Maranatha”); James 5.8. Proximity or parousia? Either. God is present with His people, ever mindful of them as they live with gentleness toward all. Also, He is coming back one day and this should be a motive of our magnanimity. Further, His nearness promotes within the Christian the incentive to pray (v.6).
6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Do not be anxious about anything: present imperative (command), “stop being anxious.” Worry “betrays a lack of trust in God’s care” (Martin 171). Lit. the word means to have a divided mind, pulled in different directions. “Anything” (lit. nothing) means any man, any woman, anything (ex. Spouse, kids, job, health, bills, economy, etc.).
But in everything…known to God: “But” (Gk. Alla) is a sharp contrast. Not worry BUT prayer. “Prayer is the cure for care” (Spurgeon). “Everything” menas…everything. Develop the habit of referring all things, both great and small, to God in prayer. Four (4) prayer words: 1) prayer (Gk proseuche) is general invocation of God; 2) supplication (Gk deesei) is a request as a result of need; 3) thanksgiving (Gk eucharistias) springs from the remembrance of God’s goodness and mercy; 4) requests (Gk aitemata) are specific things asked for. We can talk to the cosmic sovereign Ruler of everything about everything.
7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And the peace of God…understanding: Here is the result attached of taking all things to God in prayer: He gives us His peace. The God of peace (v.9) gives peace; the Son left His peace (Jn 14.27); the Holy Spirit produces peace (Gal 5.22). The entire Godhead is at work to bring us peace which eludes the minds of natural men, but floods the mind of the spiritual.
Will guard…in Christ Jesus: “guard” is a military term which would conjure an idea familiar to the Philippians who lived in a garrisoned city. They were used to seeing Roman soldiers on guard. That is what the peace of God does to the hearts and minds of Christians (“in Christ”).
Peace of Mind (8-9)
Pondering and practicing things which bear the eight (8) characteristics listed will bring peace of mind to the Christian and invoke the presence of God.
8Finally, 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.
Finally, brothers: Paul seeks to conclude his letter to these Christians in Philippi. Some see a continuation of thought—if peace would abide then certain steps must be taken.
Whatever is true: as opposed to false. Things honest and in keeping with historical fact.
Whatever is honorable: or noble. Things of dignity, respect, and reverence.
Whatever is just: or right. Things that duty demands. Same word for righteous.
Whatever is pure: clean things, thoughts, words, deeds. Free from moral defect. Unmixed.
Whatever is lovely: used only here in the NT. Things pleasing, beautiful, or winsome.
Whatever is commendable: Things well spoken of and praiseworthy.
If there is any excellence: A word used by Peter (1 Pt 2.9; 2 Pt 1.3, 5) which seems to denote anything which the Philippians would find best and good morally.
If there is anything worthy of praise: anything generally or universally deserving praise. Anything which Paul might have missed but are morally excellent and praiseworthy…
Think about these things: NKJV “meditate on these things.” Present imperative. Reflect upon these virtues and allow them to shape your conduct. Keep on thinking about these things with logic and in detail. Give careful attention and study to them. “Let these be the considerations which guide your thoughts and direct your motives” (Caffin 157-158).
9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
What you have…in me: Cf. 1 Cor 11.1. Paul had lived among these brethren for a short time but his example lingered in their minds. They had been taught both formally and informally; the traditions had been passed on; they had heard his preaching; they had witnessed his life.
Practice these things: present imperative. From contemplation to transformation. Reflection should produce a response. The Philippians were to put into action the pattern Paul had given in his words and deeds. These things should comprise their habitual practice (career).
And the God of peace will be with you: God lives among people who are holy in thought and holy in lifestyle. Herein lies the incentive to ponder and practice holiness. Not just His peace, but God Himself “will be with you.”