Philippians 4 Study Notes


4:1 Stand firm recalls Roman soldiers who never retreated for fear of being killed while under assault.

4:2 Euodia and Syntyche were influential, like many women in the Philippian church (Ac 16). There is no evidence that they held offices. Urge occurs twice, once with each name, avoiding favoritism. Agree translates the Greek word phroneo, found so often in this epistle (esp. 2:1-11). This disunity may not have been a significant problem since Paul saved his exhortation for the end of the letter. It was not moral or theological.


Greek pronunciation [KIGH roh]
CSB translation rejoice
Uses in Philippians 9
Uses in the NT 74
Focus passage Philippians 4:4

Chairo means to enjoy a state of gladness, happiness, or well-being. Scripture records numerous events that result in this joyful state: finding something formerly lost (Mt 18:13; Lk 15:5,32); the hope of reward from God (Mt 5:12 = Lk 6:23; Lk 10:20); Jesus’s miracles (Lk 13:17; 19:37); his birth (Lk 1:14); his post-resurrection appearances (Jn 20:20); suffering (Ac 5:41; Col 1:24); the repentance of others (2Co 7:9); the faith of others (Col 2:5); the preaching about Christ (Php 1:18); and many other occasions. This act of rejoicing in God is commanded for Christians (2Co 13:11; Php 3:1; 4:4; 1Th 5:16). Chairo was commonly used in Greek to express greetings—whether in written communication (Ac 15:23; 23:26; Jms 1:1) or spoken address (Mt 26:49; 28:9; Lk 1:28).

4:3 Ask is less authoritative than “urge” (v. 2). True partner is singular. Someone in authority (the pastor) would be the mediator. “Partner” elsewhere is translated “fellowship.” This is the yokefellow, one co-yoked in the work. Paul provided reasons to help these women. First, they contended with Paul (an athletic term). Second, they worked alongside Clement (unknown) and Paul’s coworkers. The book of life, mentioned rarely in the NT (cp. Rv 3:5; 20:15; 21:27), refers to those listed among the saved.

4:4-9 In this section Paul approached peace from two perspectives—peace within troublesome circumstances (vv. 4-7) and constructing an environment of peace (vv. 8-9).

4:5 Graciousness implies selflessness and respect for others (cp. 2:1-4). Seldom mentioned in Paul’s writings, graciousness is expected of believers and Christian leaders (cp. 1Tm 3:3; Ti 3:2). Be known indicates it is part of the church’s reputation. The Lord is near reminded the Philippian believers of Christ’s unseen presence. It also reminded them of his return.

4:6-7 Worry is anxiety (Mt 6:25-34). Prayer is the antidote for worry. Three words express different aspects of prayer: prayer, a worshipful attitude; petition, a need; and requests, the specific concern. Thanksgiving shapes prayers with gratitude. In response, the peace of God brings power to endure. The peace surpasses knowledge, calming a troubling situation when explanations fail. Further, peace guards by keeping anxieties from hearts (choices) and minds (attitudes).

4:8-9 Minds focused on these seven qualities experience the peace of God. True is ethical “truthfulness.” Honorable is “noble,” to be respected. Just is giving people what they deserve. Pure is holy in relation to God. Lovely, mentioned only here in the NT, is attractive. Commendable, also used only here in the NT, is praiseworthy. The God of peace complements “the peace of God” (v. 7) in that life with these characteristics encourages God’s presence.

4:10 Once again indicates that some time had elapsed between the Philippian believers’ previous gifts to Paul (cp. 2Co 8) and their sending Epaphroditus to him in Rome (2:25-30). Since Paul had no need, they lacked the opportunity to give.

4:11 Learned (Greek perfect tense) implies a lesson resulting in better knowledge. Content (lit “self-reliant”) is self-sufficiency that grows out of trust in Christ.

4:12 I know results from evaluating various circumstances. The difficult circumstances are to make do with little, to be hungry, and to be in need. The contrasting good are to make do with a lot, to be well fed, and to be in abundance. Together these taught Paul how to be content.

4:13 All things refers to the economic fluctuations of life (v. 12). Through him who strengthens me teaches that Christ empowers believers to live in God’s will. Paradoxically, Paul was strong when he was weak; independent only when dependent. Such is the life of a disciple.

4:14 Partnering is the word for “fellowship” (1:5). Hardship is “tribulations.” Real partners share difficulties.

4:15 The early days of the gospel refers to Paul’s leaving Philippi to continue witnessing in Europe. Shared is, again, “fellowship” (v. 14; 1:5). Others had a one-way relationship, receiving but not giving. You alone reveals one reason why Paul loved the Philippian church. They did what others did not.

4:16 Paul entered Thessalonica after leaving Philippi, and the Philippian believers’ gifts to him began immediately and continued consistently (several times).

4:17 With contentment (v. 11) and adaptability (v. 12), Paul did not seek the gift. That would abuse his converts and compromise servanthood. With a higher, spiritual motivation, Paul sought the profit that is increasing to your account. Using financial terms, Paul declared this “profit” accrued from an action. “Increasing” is the interest it would bear to the account of the Philippian believers. Giving, a physical and material act, is a spiritual transaction.

4:18 Continuing financial language, Paul had received everything in full. Any responsibility to him was paid. What Epaphroditus embodied was an abundance. Their material support was a fragrant offering and an acceptable sacrifice because it met Paul’s needs and was pleasing to God (cp. Rm 12:1-2). Giving always benefits those who give more than those who receive.

4:19-20 God bountifully blesses those who give with glorious provision in accord with his glory and for his purposes. Paul’s doxology is based on the ultimate purpose of life to bring glory to God now and forever.

4:21-22 Caesar’s household indicates there were Christians in Rome related to the Roman emperor. “Household” probably indicates they were not immediate family; they were perhaps members of the civil service.