1Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
Paul longs to see the Philippians, and he views these who have come to faith as a result of his spiritual investment as his joy and crown. These believers are Paul’s spiritual fruit which will bring him eternal rewards and, more importantly, glory to Christ. Paul does not find joy in base, worldly things but in that which is eternal and important to Christ. His eternal perspective of his life as he looks forward to the prize and reflects upon the future coming of Christ transforms how he lives in the present. He desires the Philippians to stand firm in Christ, living in humility, unity, and holiness.
2I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.
3Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Euodia and Syntyche, two godly women who had supported Paul in his ministry, had evidently been having conflict between them. Paul’s admonition was for them to live in harmony so that his joy could be full (Philippians 2:2). Some person at Philippi whom Paul trusted and who probably knew these women well was to work with them to help them resolve their issues and to encourage them to live peaceably with one another. Clement and many other Christians had also assisted Paul in his ministry, and Paul was confident that their names were written in the book of life because of their faith in Christ. There are books which record all that sinners have done wrong (Revelation 20:12), and then there is the book of life which is for those who are in Christ Who has done all things right (Revelation 20:15, 21:27). Believers are not held liable for their sin such that they would face God’s wrath, for they have life in Jesus and are thus in His book of life. Those who are truly saved will never be blotted out of the book of life (Revelation 3:5), for we are all more than conquerors in Christ (Romans 8:37).
4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Joy is to be a constant reality for believers. Though life can be very difficult at times and there are times of great sorrow and grief, we can always be comforted and have hope in our hearts, not despairing, because of Christ in us and our promised inheritance with Him in heaven. Thus, we must choose to believe Christ’s word by faith and decide to rejoice.
5Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Gentleness speaks of being tender rather than harsh. Believers are not pushovers or doormats, but they are to have a certain tenderness about them. This can be seen practically in a willingness to forgive, to be long-suffering, to be merciful, and to be caring, among other things. Tender-heartedness rather than a calloused, careless mindset toward others is indicative of true kindness and love (c.f. Ephesians 4:31-32).
6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There is no reason for believers to be anxious about things because our God cares for us. Our worrying won’t change things a bit, but our trusting in Christ and praying to Him about our needs can (c.f. Luke 12:25-26). God can do anything, and we need to trust ourselves to Him, committing our way to Him. Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.” We commit our way to Him as we obey Him, thank Him, let Him carry our burdens (1 Peter 4:7), and give our requests to Him in prayer. God already knows our needs, but we can by faith remove the burden upon ourselves of stress and worry by giving it to Him as we petition Him in prayer. We let our all-powerful God take on what we feel inadequate to take on (c.f. Zechariah 4:6). When we trust God, He promises to let His peace, a fruit of His Spirit within us (Galatians 5:22), guard our hearts and minds. He will keep us from being anxious, and He will enable us to stay calm and to stand firm. God’s peace is so wonderful that it goes beyond worth and qualities that we can even wrap our minds around; it is so valuable and precious. His peace is also superior to understanding in that we would stress ourselves to an early death if we tried to be God and understand His mind and ways. God gives us peace which for us is better than total understanding. We are to trust Him completely and not lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). When we keep our minds fixed upon Christ and His Word in faith, we can have peace (Isaiah 26:3).
8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
It is seared on man’s conscience as to what is right and what is wrong (Romans 1:32). Thus, even the world has an understanding of what is honorable, right, and pure, though many justify and rationalize behaviors that they know are wrong. Paul’s admonition here is that whatever is of good repute, or well thought of and well spoken of, is probably what we should be thinking on. If we have any doubt about it, we have the other guidelines about what is true, right, lovely (acceptable), and pure. God’s Word is our final, ultimate, and authoritative guide as to what we should be setting our minds upon. It is upon the Word of God that we should meditate (Joshua 1:8).
Our minds think, plot, reflect, and meditate. Even while we aren’t consciously thinking about things, our minds work. What we put into them is what they are going to be prone to think on, work through, and have to filter. The danger is that as we take in filth and garbage of the world that we will eventually act it out and defile ourselves (Mark 7:20). We need to do what we can to not let our minds dwell on evil. We are in the world, and we will be tempted by the devil. We must flee him and resist him (James 4:7), giving no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14). When wrong thoughts come, we must take them captive unto obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We must rather think on Christ, fixing our minds on Him, thus sustaining our joy and peace. If something would be praised by Christ or be declared right by God’s Word, then we can think on it. Anything else must be purged from our minds, lest we be led away and enticed by awakening the desires of our flesh (James 1:14).
9The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Paul again encourages the Philippians to model their behavior after him. They are to practice the things which they have learned from him by listening and observing. As they walk in holiness and after the Spirit rather than after the flesh, they will remain at peace.
10But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.
The Philippians had done whatever they could to support Paul, including financial means. For a time, they were unable to give, but Epaphroditus risked his life to be able to support Paul in this time (2:30). Now, the Philippians are able to support Paul again, and they are doing so.
11Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
Paul is not greedy in his desire to be supported and have his needs met. He has submitted himself to God’s plan and provision, and he has found contentment in whatever his circumstances are. This was something Paul learned as he endured these times, coming to the place where he had joy and peace in abundance or in lack. His heart and mind were guarded and at rest in God’s peace no matter what would happen to him, no matter where he was, and no matter how bright or dim his earthly future appeared.
12I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
13I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Paul has endured times of having more than he needed and times of not just being in need but enduring the suffering which accompanies need. He has learned to be content and to righteously steward and handle times of prosperity and times of lack. Some people are corrupted by wealth, falling to self-glory and self-sufficiency. Others curse God when things go bad, and they find themselves in need. Paul was able to give God the glory in both times of prosperity and need. His secret, whether he was hungry or well-fed, was that He could endure and persevere spiritually in godliness because of the strength of Christ. It was not that Christ would magically relieve His suffering and make food appear out of thin air so that Paul never had need, but it was that Paul wasn’t corrupted in spirit by circumstances, whether good or bad. Christ was His boast, and suffering with Him or serving Him both brought him joy. To live was Christ and to die was gain (Philippians 1:21). He knew that God’s grace would be sufficient no matter what for him to persevere in honoring Christ even if his body continued to decay or if he was being attacked in some way by a minion of the devil (2 Corinthians 10:7-10). God always give us the grace and resources to be able to do His will as we walk in godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
14Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.
15You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone;
16for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.
The Philippians do well to give to Paul such that they share in his affliction by ministering to him. They did not forget him while he was in prison, and they were able to support him even if only from a distance by sending material things. He reminds them of how they were the only church to support him after he left Macedonia. While he was in Thessalonica, he remembers that they sent a gift to him more than once.
17Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.
The Philippians had the joy of sharing in the God-designed process of giving and receiving. The church as a whole is to see to it that those in need are given to by those who have an abundance so that none lack and none have too much (2 Corinthians 8:14). Thus, giving and receiving takes place in the church, and a major way that it is to take place, though not under compulsion, is in the case of those who are serving the Lord full-time who need support. They bring their wisdom, teaching, shepherding, and service, but they need their material needs taken care of (c.f. 1 Corinthians 9:9-11). (Paul did not require support from those he ministered to, for he labored as a tentmaker in addition to doing the work of the ministry lest any would be stumbled by his receiving support.) Yet there is also a giving and receiving of an eternal significance. As we give to the Lord by giving to the work of His church, we receive eternal rewards and blessing in addition to the joy that we get from the giving itself (2 Corinthians 9:11-13). Giving is part of God’s plan, for He loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). Paul desired that the Philippians would give faithfully out of obedience to God because of what blessing and reward it would bring to their eternal, spiritual account. To give a decaying material possession in exchange for eternal rewards always yields a great profit.
18But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
Paul acknowledges that the Philippians have given him more than he needs and that he is now amply supplied. Epaphroditus brought the gift to Paul on their behalf, which Paul received as an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing, and a fragrant aroma to God (c.f. Romans 12:1-2, Exodus 29:18). In our giving, we ultimately give to God as a sacrifice to Him, for He owns all things (c.f. Psalm 50:10). We have nothing that we didn’t receive first from Him. Giving joyously is a great blessing to God, and it brings Him great delight.
19And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” The principle in Scripture is that as we give generously and from a cheerful heart to God, God will reward us so that we receive bountifully in return. If we give sparingly, we can expect few rewards. This is not to be understood as a promise that we will never be in need, for Paul was in need as he just explained (4:12). A need cannot be supplied if it is not first a need. Thus, it is not as though those who are in need, financial, physical, emotional, or any other kind of need, are lacking faith or not giving enough to God. There is no guarantee in the Bible that we will never have need. Needs remind us of our utter dependence upon God Who is the Giver of all good things.
The truth of Scripture is that those who have an abundance by the grace of God are to be giving to those in need (Acts 2:44-45). Paul is saying here that, one way or another, though preferably through other believers, God will repay the Philippians for their generosity. Certainly, they will be rewarded in eternity, yet there is also an expectation of like for like. The Philippians gave materially, and Paul seems to indicate that they will have their material needs supplied by God’s riches in glory. Yet we must be careful lest we try to manipulate God and make free, cheerful giving with no thought of recompense other than eternal rewards and joy into a “give so that I can get back” mentality. It is not that we give one hundred dollars and somebody guarantees us either two hundred in return or even simply the repayment of what we have given. It is not that we give God ten percent and then somehow expect God to miraculously give us that money back. We are not to give thinking that the money will come right back to us. We are to give to God knowing that God will reward us in His perfect time, one way or another. He has riches that go beyond mere dollars and cents, and there are more needs than mere financial, though certainly He cares about our material needs as Paul emphasizes here.
The Scripture indicates that the churches which give to the Lord bountifully will have their needs supplied bountifully so that they can again give bountifully and have an abundance for every good deed and work of righteousness (2 Corinthians 9:8-11). As we sow, so also will we reap in eternity and in terms of our spiritual fruitfulness now (Galatians 6:7). We don’t give to get rich on earth but in heaven. Yet we can give freely and trust that God will supply our needs as He sees them and defines them, which is not always as we see and define them. It is sometimes in a place of need that we grow the most spiritually. Thus, we must trust this promise to be true, though we will not always understand how it is fulfilled. Yet we shouldn’t be surprised when God does work miraculously or through the giving of our brothers and sisters to supply our needs as we supply the needs of others. The bottom line is that we can give bountifully and cheerfully as a church knowing that God will take care of our needs.
20Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul exalts our God and Father by praising Him, desiring glory to always be His. We are to give God glory, and we can thank God as He supplies our need. In all things, in all places, and in all conditions, God is to receive the glory.
21Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.
Paul wants the Philippians to greet every saint in Christ (believers are saints who sometimes sin, being no longer sinners by identity). This is to be a true family where each person is cared for. Certainly, as this letter was read to the church, Paul’s greeting would be passed on to all of them. Paul’s desire is that each person would know that he cares for them, that all who are with him care for them, and that they be reminded that Christ cares for them.
22All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household.
All the saints that Paul knew in Rome, including many who were saved in Caesar’s household including those who heard of the gospel through his present imprisonment, passed on their greetings to the Philippians. The true church is ultimately one church that loves one another even though geographically it is separated into different locales.
23The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Paul wishes the believers the grace of God to be with their spirits as He continues to work out their salvation (Philippians 2:12-13) so that they can be preserved complete and perfect at the coming of Christ, body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23).