You Can Provide Clean Water to Persecuted Christians

Philippians 4




Final Exhortations (4:1-9)

1 Having described in Philippians 3:1221 how the Philippian believers should “press on” and not look back, how they should follow the example of mature Christians, how they should “eagerly await” the coming of Christ, Paul now writes: Therefore … that is how you should stand firm in the Lord.

We must stand firm in the Lord, in His strength and in His grace. One of the biggest helps in standing firm is our faith that Jesus will return and transform our bodies into His likeness (Philippians 3:20-21).

The Philippians are Paul’s joy and crown (see 1 Thessalonians 2:19). They are the fruit of Paul’s labor. They are his “crown of victory,” the crown the runner receives when he wins the race (1 Corinthians 9:25).

2 Here we read that two leading women in the Philippian church have had a disagreement. Paul doesn’t tell us what the disagreement is about. He only pleads with them that they agree with each other and become of one mind (see Philippians 2:2). Paul’s great desire is that there be unity in the church.

Unity in the church depends on two things: true teaching and purity of life. It is essential to oppose those who teach falsehood and those who live in sin without repenting. Such people are like a “cancer” in Christ’s body, the church; and that “cancer” needs to be cut out and removed.

But it is a sin to oppose those in the church who have a disagreement with us over a personal matter. To oppose a brother or sister for such a reason is a work of the sinful nature, a work of impurity. Such opposition wounds Christ’s body. It can destroy the church. Whenever we feel impelled to oppose some brother or sister in the church, let us make very certain that we are opposing that person for Christ’s sake and not our own sake. Otherwise, we shall be opposing Christ Himself.

Paul asks these two women to agree with each other in the Lord. In order for there to be true agreement between Christians, each side must accept the lordship and authority of Christ. Only as brothers and sisters in the Lord can we truly be of one mind with each other. We cannot be of one mind on any major matter with those who are not in the Lord.

3 Paul here asks another member of the Philippian church to help the two women mentioned in verse 2 to resolve their differences. Paul calls this person his loyal yokefellow. It is not known who this person was. Paul also mentions Clement11 and other fellow workers, whose names are written in the book of life (see Luke 10:20; Revelation 3:5).

4 Paul again tells the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord (see Philippians 3:1 and comment).

Rejoice! This is not a suggestion; it’s a command. When we are continually sad, we are disobeying God’s word. Nevertheless, there are times when it is appropriate to mourn, and at such times it is not a sin to be sad. And we must always mourn for sin, both for our own sins and for the sins of others (see Matthew 5:4; Romans 12:15 and comments).

5 The word gentleness that Paul uses here is a very broad word. Its meaning includes not only gentleness, but also patience, kindness, and goodness—all fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). A gentle man is also a generous man. Such a man looks out not for his own interests but for the interests of others (Philippians 2:20-21). Let our gentleness be apparent to all men. Gentleness is one proof of our love for each other (see John 13:35).

The Lord is near. Paul means that Christ is near to the Philippians and has His gaze upon them. Christ is constantly purifying His church in Philippi.

But there is a second meaning to Paul’s statement that the Lord is near: namely, that the Lord is about to come again (James 5:8). Some people ask: “Is the Lord late in coming? If when Paul wrote this letter the Lord’s coming was near, why has He not come?” But let us not doubt about His coming. Rather, let us remember that in the Lord’s sight a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day (2 Peter 3:8).

6 Do not be anxious about anything. This is a command. To be anxious is always a sin, because anxiety is a sign of lack of faith (Romans 14:23). God is our loving and all-powerful heavenly Father. He will take care of His children (1 Peter 5:7). We are not to worry (see Matthew 6:25-34).

However, when we have a need for something, we must ask God for it (Matthew 6:11; 7:7-8). God knows what we need before we ask for it. Nevertheless, just as a human father wants to hear his children’s requests, so our heavenly Father wants to hear our requests. But we must ask God in faith (James 1:6-8). Not only that, we must ask with thanksgiving (Ephesians 5:20; Philippians 1:3). God hears our requests, and He always gives us an answer. Therefore, even as we pray, we can thank Him for answering (see 1 John 5: 14-15 and comment).

7 The peace of God is one of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). When God’s peace comes into our minds, anxiety goes out. Peace and anxiety are opposites. God’s peace is greater than our understanding. It transcends all understanding. With our understanding, we see things that make us anxious; but when God’s peace comes, our anxiety is overcome. God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds from every anxiety. Anxieties are weapons of Satan.

But the peace of God is available only in Christ Jesus. Apart from Christ, the Holy Spirit does not dwell within us. And if the Holy Spirit is not in our life, there will be no peace either.

8 What kinds of things do we think about, what do we concentrate on? Do we spend a lot of time finding fault with others? Or grumbling among ourselves? Let us stop that. Instead, let us think about things that are true, noble, pure, lovely, and admirable. … think about such things.

9 Whatever true teaching from the Bible we read or hear about we must put into practice. Do not merely listen to the word. … Do what it says (James 1:22,25). If we obey God’s word, not only the peace of God (verse 7) but the God of peace will be with us—God Himself!

Thanks for Their Gifts (4:10-23)

10 Paul rejoices in the love and generosity that the Philippians have shown to him. Epaphroditus has just recently brought to Paul a gift from the Philippians (verse 18).

11-12 But Paul has not written verse 10 because he is still in need and hopes to get even more help from the Philippians. He is not writing to flatter the Philippians, but merely to express his gratitude. Paul has learned to be content whatever the circumstances (1 Timothy 6:6). In other words, Paul’s state of contentment does not depend on outward circumstances. He possesses the peace of God (verse 7). Let us, like Paul, learn to always be content. If we have plenty, let us humbly accept it with a clear conscience, giving thanks to God. If we have little, let us not complain against God; rather, let us fully accept His will in all things (Job 1:21-22).

Worldly men—those who love the world more than they love God—are always seeking bodily comforts and pleasures. But we believers in Christ should seek only our bodily necessities. As far as our physical lives are concerned, we should ask God only for those things which are necessary for our well-being. But as far as our spiritual lives are concerned, there is no limit to what we can ask for from God. God is ready to give us spiritual gifts and blessings in abundance.

13 In verse 12, Paul said that he has learned the secret of remaining content. What is that “secret”? In Paul’s words, the secret is this: I can do everything through him (Christ) who gives me strength. There’s nothing that Christ cannot give. There’s no work that Christ cannot enable us to do (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). Because of this, we can do everything through Christ (see Ephesians 3:20-21).

14 Even though Paul could have managed without the Philippians’ help, he is grateful that they have been sharers in his troubles.

15-16 Here Paul recalls with appreciation the Philippians’ former generosity and assistance (Philippians 1:4-5).

17  Paul is not praising the Philippians in order to get more help from them. Rather, he is seeking that they might receive spiritual fruit as a reward for their generosity to him. He wants them to be spiritually blessed for their generosity; he wants their generosity to be credited to their account.

18 Because of the gift that Epaphroditus has recently brought from the Philippians, Paul is now abundantly supplied. Paul says that their gift is a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. Whenever we help others, especially those who are in Christian work, we are presenting a fragrant offering12 to God (see Hebrews 13:16). This kind of sacrifice is pleasing to God. Whatever we do for our brothers, we do also for Christ (Matthew 25:40). But even more than the sacrifice of our money, God wants the sacrifice of ourselves, our own lives. He wants us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices in obedience to Him (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 10:5-7).

19-20 The promise Paul has written in verse 19 is one of the greatest promises in the Bible: God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. God will meet all your needs—both physical and spiritual! Brothers and sisters, are any of you in any need? Simply trust in God and in His promises. He says: “I will meet all your needs” (see 2 Corinthians 9:8).

God will meet all our needs in Christ Jesus. Apart from Christ, we shall not receive any of God’s promises. All of our needs are met in Christ and through Christ. Together with Christ, God freely gives us all things; but if we are not in Christ, we shall receive nothing (see Matthew 6:33; Romans 8:32 and comments).

And does God only give us a little? Does He give us only barely enough? No, He gives to us according to his glorious riches! (see Ephesians 1:3; 3:8,20-21). There is no limit to the glorious riches of Christ. And these riches are ours in Him! May God be praised!

But a word of caution is necessary here. The glorious riches Paul refers to in verse 19 are primarily spiritual riches, not material riches. In material things, God has promised to supply only our needs—not our wants! But in spiritual things, God is ready to bless us in abundance.

21-22 Paul here sends the Philippians greetings from various Christians in Rome. Those who belong to Caesar’s household are some of the servants and household officials of Caesar13 who had become believers. Because Paul was a prisoner of Caesar, he had contact with some members of Caesar’s household. Through his witness, some had become Christians (see Philippians 1:13).

23 See 1 Corinthians 16:23 and comment.


1 Greece is an important country of southern Europe In New Testament times, it had fallen under the rule of the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, it had remained a center of culture and learning. Most educated people in New Testament times spoke the Greek language. The New Testament itself was origin ally written in Greek.

2 In place of the word overseers, many translations of the Bible say “bishops.” The meaning is the same; “bishop” is simply a name for an overseer. In later church history, however, the word “bishop” came to mean a special high-ranking leader of the church.

3 In this one short verse, we can see the two great doctrines of justification and sanctification. Justification is the good work that God has begun in us. We have been justified freely by his grace (Romans 3:24). Sanctification is the bringing of that work to completion, to perfect holiness. Our justification has already taken place—by grace through faith. Our sanctification continues to take place throughout our lives—by grace through faith. For further discussion, see General Articles: Way of Salvation. Holy Spirit.

4 The day of Christ also means the day of judgment, when Christ will judge every man (John 5:22; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The day of judgment will take place at the aid of the world, when Christ comes again.

5 In place of the word deliverance, some translations of the Bible say “salvation.”

6The other thing besides unity that gives Jesus special joy is our purity. Purity and unity are both equally essential for the church.

7 Christians do not need to be afraid of God’s condemnation, but they do need to be afraid of displeasing and disappointing God. For further discussion, see 1 John 4:18 and comment.

8 In place of the words hold out, some translations of the Bible say “hold on to.” Although the two meanings are different, they are both true. It is not certain which meaning Paul intended.

9 The Hebrews were Jews who spoke either the Hebrew or the Aramaic language. In Paul’s time, there were two main kinds of Jews: those who spoke the Greek language, and those who spoke Hebrew or Aramaic (Acts 6:1). Even though Paul could also speak Greek, he was himself a Hebrew. The Hebrews considered themselves to be the purest and truest Jews of all.

10 Among the enemies of the cross, those who are Jews glory also in their flesh, that is, in their circumcision (verse 3).

11 Clement is not mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament. It is not known who he was.

12 In accordance with Jewish law, the Jews burned fragrant incense when they offered sacrifices.

13 All Roman emperors were given the title Caesar. “Caesar” means emperor.