Philippians 4

There are two words in the first verse which direct our thoughts to
what has gone before: "Therefore" and "so." We are to stand fast in the
Lord therefore, that is, because of, or in view of, what has
just been stated. Well, what has been stated? Our heavenly calling, our
heavenly citizenship, our expectation of that body of glory, fashioned
like unto Christ's in which we shall enter into our heavenly portion.
No uncertainty here! And no disappointment when the moment of
realization comes! We may well stand fast in the Lord!

But we are to stand fast so, that is, in like manner to the
way in which Paul himself stood fast as delineated in chapter 3. We are
to be "followers together" of him, and have him "for an ensample," as
he told us. If we too find in the knowledge of Christ an excellency
that far outshines all else, we shall indeed "stand fast in the Lord." Our affections, our very beings will be so rooted in Him that nothing can move us.

As we have previously noticed the adversary was attempting to mar
the testimony through the Philippians by means of dissension. In verse
2 we discover that at the moment the trouble largely centred in two
excellent women who were in their midst. The Apostle now turns to them,
naming them with the entreaty that they be of the same mind in the Lord. The
three words emphasized are of all importance. If both came thoroughly
under the domination of the Lord, having their hearts set for Him as
Paul's was, differences of mind, which existed at that moment, would
disappear. The mind of Euodias as to the matter, and Syntyche's mind,
would disappear and the mind of the Lord would remain. Thus they would
be of the same mind by having the Lord's mind.

Verse 3 appears to be a request to Epaphroditus, who was returning
to Philippi bearing this letter, that he would help these two women in
the matter, for they had been in the past devoted labourers in the
Gospel along with the Apostle himself, Clement and others. If they
could be helped the main root of dissension would be removed.

With verse 4 we come back to the exhortation of the first verse of
Phil. 3. There we were told to rejoice in the Lord. Here we are to
rejoice in the Lord alway; for nothing is to be allowed to divert us from it. Further, he emphasizes by repeating the word, that we are to rejoice. We are not merely to believe and to trust, we are also to rejoice.

This leads to the consideration of things that would hinder our
rejoicing in the Lord. The harsh unyielding spirit that always insists
on its own rights is one of these things, for it is a fruitful source
of discontent and self-occupation. In contrast thereto we are to be
characterized by moderation and gentleness, for the Lord is near and He
will undertake our cause.

Then again there are the varied testings and worries of life, things
which have a tendency to fill our hearts with anxious care. In regard
to these prayer is our resource. We should mingle thanksgivings with
our prayers, for we should ever be mindful of the abundant mercies of
the past. And the scope of our prayers is only limited by the word,

This scripture invites us to turn everything into a matter of
prayer, and freely make known our requests to God. There is no
guarantee, you notice, that all our requests will be granted. That
would never do for our understanding is very limited and consequently
we often ask for that which, if granted to us, would be neither to the
glory of our Lord nor to our own blessing. What is guaranteed is that
our hearts and minds shall be guarded

by the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. Again and
again when Christians have passed through trials, from which they had
in vain requested to be exempted, we find them looking back and saying,
"I am a wonder to myself. How I could have passed through so heavy a
trial, and yet have been lifted above it into such serenity, I cannot

"The peace of God," must be distinguished from "peace with God," of
which we read in Romans 5: 1. That is the peace in relation to God,
which comes from the knowledge of being justified before Him. This is
the peace, in character like unto God's own peace, which fills our
hearts when having committed everything to Him in prayer, we trust in
His love and wisdom on our behalf, and consequently have anxious care
as to nothing.

It may also be helpful to distinguish between prayer as presented in
this passage and as presented in John 14: 13, 14. There the Lord was
speaking more particularly to the Apostolic band, in their character as
the representatives that He was leaving behind Him in the world, and He
gives them plenary powers as regards prayer in His Name. The force of
"in My Name," is "as My representatives." This praying in His Name is a
tremendously responsible and solemn thing. Every cheque drawn really in
His Name on the Bank of Heaven will be honoured. Only we must be very
careful that we do not draw cheques for purely personal purposes of our
own, under cover of drawing in His Name. That would be a kind of
misappropriation of trust funds! And let us remember that in the Bank
of Heaven there is a penetrating vision which can infallibly
discriminate between the cheque which is genuinely in His Name and the
one which is not.

Still, though there are a thousand and one matters in our lives that
we could hardly present to God in prayer as being directly connected
with the Name and interests of Christ, yet we have full liberty to
present them to God, and indeed are bidden to do so. As we do so we may
be in the enjoyment of the peace of God. We may be anxious as to nothing, because prayerful as to everything, and thankful for anything.

Anxious care being driven out of our hearts there is room for all
that is good to come in. Of this verse 8 speaks. One can hardly
exaggerate the importance of having the mind filled with all that is
true and pure and lovely, the highest expression of which is found in
Christ. Our lives are so largely controlled by our thoughts, and hence
it says, "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23: 7). Hence
to have our minds filled with what is true and just and pure is like a
high road leading to a life marked by truth and justice and purity. We
have of necessity to come into contact with much that is evil, but
needlessly to occupy ourselves with it is disastrous, and a source of
spiritual weakness.

But if the supreme and perfect expression of all these good things
was found in Christ, there was also a very real exhibition of them in
the life of the Apostle himself. The Philippians had not only learned
and received and heard them, but also seen them in Paul, and what they
had seen they themselves were to do. To DO, notice, for the
excellent things that fill our minds are to come into practical display
in our lives. Then indeed the God of peace shall be with us, which is
something beyond the peace of God filling our hearts.

With verse 10 the closing messages of the epistle begin, and Paul
again refers to the gift which the Philippians had sent him. That gift
had been a cause of great rejoicing to him in his imprisonment. He knew
that he had not been out of their thoughts, but they had not had
opportunity to send help until this occasion of the journey of
Epaphroditus. It had now arrived most opportunely; yet his joy was not
primarily because it relieved him of privation, as the beginning of
verse 11 shows, but because he knew it meant more fruit towards God,
which would be to their credit in the coming day, as verse 17 shows.

Speaking of want or privation leads the Apostle to give us a
wonderful insight into the way in which he faced his sufferings and
imprisonment. These tragic circumstances had become to him a fountain
of practical instruction, for he had learned to be content. To be
content in present circumstances, no matter what they be, was not
natural to Paul any more than it is to us. But he had learned it. And
learned it, not as a matter of theory, but in experimental fashion by
passing through the most adverse circumstances, with his heart full of
Christ, as we see in chapter 3. Hence he was able to face changes of
the most violent sort. Abasement or abounding, fulness or hunger,
abounding or acute privation, all was the same to Paul, for Christ was
the same, and all Paul's resources and joys were in Him.

In Christ Paul had strength for all things, and the same strength in
the same way is available for every one of us. If only we exploited all
that is in Christ for us we could do all things. But Paul did not
simply say, "I could," but rather, "I can." It is easy to admire the
wonderful fortitude, the serene superiority to circumstances which
marked the Apostle, and it is not difficult to discern the source of
his power, but it is another thing to tread in his steps. That is
hardly possible except we go through his circumstances, or similar
ones. Here it is that our weakness is so manifest. We conform to the
world, we lack spiritual vigour and aggressiveness, we avoid the
suffering, and we miss the spiritual education. We cannot say, "I have
learned... I know... I am instructed... I can do," as Paul could. It is
just as well that we should candidly face these defects that mark us,
lest we should think that we are "rich and increased with goods," that
we are picked Christians of the twentieth century, and consequently as
to "spiritual intelligence" almost the last word as to what Christians
ought to be.

The Apostle then was not in any sense dependent on the gifts of the
Philippian saints or of others, and he would have them know it; yet
though this was so he assures them, and that in a very delicate and
beautiful way, that he was fully alive to the love and devotion both
towards the Lord and himself that had prompted their gift. He
recognized that the Philippians peculiarly shone in this grace, and had
done so from the first moment that the Gospel had reached them. They
had thought of him in the past, when no other assemblies had done so,
both in Macedonia and Thessalonica, and now again in Rome.

The devotion of the Philippians in this respect was heightened by
the fact that they were very poor. We are enlightened as to this in 2
Corinthians 8: 2. They also had been in much affliction themselves, and
they had experienced much joy in the Lord. All this is very instructive
for us. Oftentimes we are unsympathetic and stingy because our own
experiences both of suffering and spiritual refreshment are so very

Having received of their bounty through Epaphroditus, Paul would
have them know that now he had a full supply and was enjoying
abundance. But their gift had not only met his need, it was in the
nature of a sacrifice acceptable to God, like to those sacrifices of a
sweet smelling odour of which the Old Testament speaks. This was a
greater thing still.

But what of the Philippians themselves? They had further
impoverished themselves, further reduced their already slender
resources by their gifts in favour of an aged prisoner who could in no
wise reciprocate or help them. Paul felt this and in verse 19 he
expresses his confidence as to them. God would supply all their need.
Notice how he speaks of Him as, "My God,"-the God whom Paul knew and
had practically tested for himself. That God would be their Supplier,
not according to their need, nor even according to Paul's ardent
desires on their behalf, but according to His own riches in glory in
Christ Jesus. It would have been a wonderful thing had God engaged to
supply them according to His riches on earth in Christ Jesus. His riches in glory are
more wonderful still. The Philippians or ourselves may never be rich in
the things of earth and yet be enriched in the things of glory. If so
we shall indeed respond, in attributing glory to God our Father for
ever and ever.

It is interesting to note in the closing word of salutation that
there were saints found even in Caesar's household. The first chapter
told us that his bonds had been manifested as being in Christ in all
the palace, and if in all the palace even to Caesar himself, we
suppose. But with some of his attendants and servants things had gone
further than that, and they had been converted. In a great stronghold
of the adversary's power souls had been translated from the kingdom of
darkness and brought into the kingdom of God's dear Son.

Such triumphs does grace effect! How fittingly comes the closing
desire, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."