The book of Philippians was written while Paul was in prison in Rome awaiting trail. He wrote this letter to the church at Philippi to thank them for their support of his ministry. The Philippian church was established while Paul was on his second missionary journey. This church was the first Christian congregation in Europe.
The support that the Philippian church gave to Paul was evidenced through prayer, money and goods. As seen in chapter 4 Paul thanked them for the people who visited him with the gifts which were donated by the Philippians for the furtherance of the Gospel.
The book of Philippians is commonly believed to be written in the year 61 or 62 AD. This was still several years before his death in 68.
Chapter 4 of Philippians has several short themes. The chapter starts with an admonition to two of the church members to work out some differences. Paul then talks about joyfulness and prayerfulness. He thanks them for their financial assistance in his ministry and finally uses the chapter to send his greetings.
Euodias and Syntyche – Verses 1-3
Apparently there was a squabble between these two church members. Paul does not elaborate as to what the problem was between them. It was apparently not a doctrinal issue or Paul would have told them specifically what they should believe. He simply admonishes them to be of the same mind.
Resolving an argument does not require both people to change their mind. What is needed is for one to come to the same position as the other. If they both change to the other position, then nothing is solved. When you are involved in an argument that is not doctrinal in nature, don’t say that it cannot be resolved because the other person is stubborn and won’t see things your way. It only takes you acquiescing to the position of the other person to completely stop a disagreement. You cannot control them, but you can control your own position in an argument. Obviously you should not back down when the other person is doctrinally incorrect, but the reality is that most disagreements in the church have nothing to do with doctrine.
Paul said that they should put away their petty arguments so that they could be a help and encouragement to others in the church. They should be examples to others who are looking to them for leadership.
Joyfulness and Prayerfulness – Verses 4-9
Paul tells the Philippian believers (and by application, us today) that they should be full of joy. We are to rejoice in the Lord with the understanding that He has all things in His control. Paul was in prison when he wrote these words. He had already said that he rejoiced in the way God had brought him through hardships so that the Gospel could be preached in places where it would never have been heard otherwise (1:3-17).
Beyond rejoicing personally, our rejoicing is a testimony which is seen by others so that they can know the Lord is near (v. 5).
He then teaches to not be full of care and worry; rather, by prayer for yourselves and others, take everything to the Lord. The result of which is the peace of God. Without prayer, you have no peace. Without peace, you have no reason to rejoice.
The peace of God will produce a calm heart and mind. This peace of mind will be further enhanced when there is a focus on holy and righteous things. Don’t fill your mind with garbage. Fill your mind with true, righteous, holy and virtuous things (v. 8). These will bring joy and peace through prayer.
Gratefulness for Physical Assistance – Verses 10-20
Though Paul was giving instruction in the first part of the chapter, he starts off in verse 10 saying that they have done a good job in solving problems, rejoicing in the Lord, praying and learning from godly teaching. He says in verses 10 and 14 that the Philippians have done well in these things. They have continued to give the help and support they should give to the work of God. They have supported the missionary efforts of Paul and the worldwide spread of the Gospel.
He then writes a general “thank you” note to the believers. He doesn’t do this so that they will continue to support his ministry. He acknowledges that he really does not need other Christians to take care of him. He knows that God will supply everything needed for the work of the ministry (vs. 11-13). However, the Philippians have allowed God to supply for the needs of Paul through them. For that, he is thankful. Paul was confident that God could supply through anyone He chose. It was the willingness of the Philippians to be used of God that Paul was grateful for.
He thanked them for communicating with him. Specifically he says this is manifested in their giving finances to his ministry. They also sent Epaphroditus to help in the ministry and carry their gift to him.
There are two results that Paul mentions which come from their care of him. First, they would receive fruit to their account with God. Again, Paul is not thanking them because he wants more money, help and physical goods from them. Paul is encouraging them to stay involved in the ministry because the fruit that comes from his work will be added to their account in heaven (v. 17).
Secondly, Paul says that God’s blessings will be on them because they have been involved in God’s work. After Paul thanks them for their involvement in the missionary effort, he turns around and says that as they have supplied his needs, God will supply their needs (v. 19). Many people want to quote this verse out of context and say that we don’t need to worry about anything financial because God will supply it all. If you read this verse as it is presented in Philippians 4 you will see that it is conditional on the church people being involved in the ministry of others.
Final Greetings – Verses 21-23
Paul sent his greetings to the far-away Christians at Philippi. He sent not only his greetings to their church, but he said that the believers around him—even the Roman Christians who were saved as a result of his imprisonment—sent their greetings to the Philippians whom they had never met. The Christians around Paul benefited directly from the gifts of the Christians in Philippi.
- If you are studying this chapter for a Sunday School lesson or group Bible study, here are a few questions you can use for discussion.
- What types of disagreements in a church or a family should be handled by just coming to “the same mind” over a matter?
- Can you give some examples of issues that should never be compromised on?
- In verse 6, what is the difference between prayer and supplication?
- Thinking about our daily entertainment (TV, music, books, movies, etc.) what are some examples of good and bad entertainment based on verse 8?
- If God supplied your needs based on the way you supply the needs of those in ministry, how well would you be cared for?
- How can you be more involved in the support of God’s ministry?
Paul closed the book by saying that the people he led to the Lord greeted those to whom he was writing. When you support the missionary effort around the world and locally, you benefit from the work they are doing. Think through your own group’s missionary involvement and try to give specific examples of the work you are participating in vicariously through the missionaries.
The Holy Bible, King James Version