Philippians 3-4

Sunday Evening Bible Study

October 1, 2000


Do people see Jesus?

Is the gospel preached?

Does it speak to the broken hearted?

Philippians 3

:1  Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

grievousokneros – sluggish, slothful, backward

safeasphales – firm (that which can be relied on); certain, true; suited to confirm


New isn’t always better.

When you’ve been a Christian for a few years, there is a danger of always looking for some “new” thing from the Lord.  When a teacher gets to a certain lesson or application, we can say to ourselves, “Oh, I’ve heard that before.”
Peter wrote that it was important to keep reminding his readers of certain truths.
(2 Pet 1:12-13 KJV)  Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. {13} Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;
I heard a story about a pastor who had preached a beautiful sermon on “Loving One Another”.  After the service several people came up to him and told him what a fine message he had given.  The following week, the pastor gave a message on “Loving One Another”.  It was the same, exact message.  Same points.  Same illustrations.  Same jokes.  Some of the people thought to themselves, “Well, maybe he’s had a bad week and forgot that he preached this message last week.”  The following week, the pastor got up and preached a message on “Loving One Another”.  You guessed it, the exact, same message.  One gal in the church got the courage to ask the pastor what was going on.  “How come you’ve preached the same sermon three weeks in a row?” she asked.  The pastor responded, “When I start seeing the church doing what the message says, I’ll preach a different sermon.”

:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

dogskuon – a dog; metaph. a man of impure mind, an impudent man

evilkakos – of a bad nature; not such as it ought to be; of a mode of thinking, feeling, acting; base, wrong, wicked; troublesome, injurious, pernicious, destructive, baneful

workersergates – a workman, a labourer; usually one who works for hire esp. an agricultural worker; one who does, a worker, perpetrator

concisionkatatome – to cut up, mutilation

There’s a play on words here.  The word for “circumcision” means to “cut around”, talking about the cutting “around” of the foreskin.  Here the word means “cut through” or “cut against”.  Instead of a “cutting” that is helpful, this is a cutting that is destructive.

Paul is probably referring to the people who taught that a person needed to be circumcised in order to be saved.  This wasn’t a helpful doctrine, but a destructive one.

:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

circumcisionperitome (around + cutting) – circumcised

Paul is saying that he is of those who have the proper “cutting”, those who have a proper relationship with God.

worshiplatreuo – to serve for hire; to serve, minister to, either to the gods or men and used alike of slaves and freemen; in the NT, to render religious service or homage, to worship; to perform sacred services, to offer gifts, to worship God in the observance of the rites instituted for his worship; of priests, to officiate, to discharge the sacred office

(John 4:21-24 KJV)  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. {22} Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. {23} But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. {24} God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

God is to be worshipped not by our outward works like the cutting of the flesh in circumcision, but through the Spirit.

rejoicekauchaomai – to glory (whether with reason or without); to glory on account of a thing; to glory in a thing

Paul’s confidence was not in that he was circumcised by a rabbi, though he was.  His boasting and glorying was in what Jesus did for him on the cross.

confidencepeitho – persuade; be persuaded; to trust, have confidence, be confident

A person who is trusting in their keeping of the Law, in the performance of good works, is a person who is trusting in their flesh.

:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

confidencepeitho – persuade; be persuaded; to trust, have confidence, be confident

Of anyone, Paul would have good reason to be trusting in his own human efforts.  He’s going to list some of them now.

:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Circumcision started with Abraham.  It was to be done on a baby boy when he was eight days old.

(Gen 17:11-12 KJV)  And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. {12} And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

Benjamin – though the smallest of the tribes, Benjamin was also the tribe of the first king, Saul.

Pharisee – Paul was part of the group that held to a very strict keeping of the Law.  They had their own traditions that they added to the Law.  Their traditions were created to help them know exactly how they were to act in every circumstance in order to keep God’s Law.

:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church;

zealzelos – excitement of mind, ardour, fervor of spirit; zeal, ardour in embracing, pursuing, defending anything; zeal in behalf of, for a person or thing

We might look at this and think that this isn’t something to brag about, but for an Orthodox Jewish boy, this meant that he was quite a zealous Jew.

We have a gal in our church whose parents are Jewish.  I recently met them at a family function and they gave me every indication that they were quite disgusted with me and their daughter because I was her pastor and she was a follower of Jesus Christ.


Sometimes zeal is good, sometimes it’s bad

Just because a person is fervent doesn’t make it right.  I have had discussions with someone close to me who is a Mormon, and I can feel quite passionate about the truth.  I don’t think that kind of zeal is necessarily bad.  We need a passion for truth and for the lost.
But it kind of knocks me back a step when I see the same kind of zeal in a Jewish father towards his converted daughter.  He too feels passionately for what he believes in.  But the problem is, passion doesn’t make it right.  Paul wrote about the Jews when he said,
(Rom 10:2 KJV)  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
Truth makes it right.  We base our zeal upon the truth of Scripture.

:6  touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Paul is saying that as far as the external keeping of the law, he was without blame.

He’s talking about external obedience, not about total obedience.  Paul shows us a little about his lack of “total” obedience when he wrote,

(Rom 7:7-9 NLT)  Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is evil? Of course not! The law is not sinful, but it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, "Do not covet." {8} But sin took advantage of this law and aroused all kinds of forbidden desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. {9} I felt fine when I did not understand what the law demanded. But when I learned the truth, I realized I had broken the law and was a sinner, doomed to die.

:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

gainkerdos – gain, advantage

countedhegeomai – to lead; to consider, deem, account, think; a belief resting not on one’s inner feeling or sentiment, but on the due consideration of external grounds, and the weighing and comparing of facts; a deliberate and careful judgment

losszemia – damage, loss

:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

all things – Paul isn’t just stuck on what he “gave up” when he came to trust in Jesus.  He has found continually for the last thirty years that nothing compares to knowing Jesus.

excellencyhuperecho – to have or hold over one; to stand out, rise above, overtop; to be above, be superior in rank, authority, power; to excel, to be superior, better than, to surpass

Remember that movie (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) where the two teenagers keep saying to each other through the whole movie, “Excellent!”?

Can you say that about knowing Jesus, that it has been the most “excellent” thing you’ve ever known?

I have suffered losszemioo – to affect with damage, do damage to; to sustain damage, to receive injury, suffer loss

dungskubalon – any refuse, as the excrement of animals, offscourings, rubbish, dregs; of things worthless and detestable

I may winkerdaino – to gain, acquire, to get gain; of gain arising from shunning or escaping from evil (where we say “to spare one’s self”, “be spared”)

This is what’s behind the phrase “have no confidence in the flesh” in verse 3.


Trusting only in Jesus.

God doesn’t want us trusting in anything but in Jesus.
Elvis was apparently fond of wearing lots of gold jewelry from various religions.  When someone asked him why he wore things from so many different beliefs, he said something like, “Just coverin’ all my bases.  Uh-huh”
Wrong attitude.

:9 And be found in him,

Never see yourself outside of Jesus Christ.

All that God has for you or will ever do for you is in Him, by Him, through Him, and for Him.

I desire more and more of Jesus.

Someone says, “I need more love.” no, you need more of Jesus.

Someone says, “I need more joy.” no, you need more of Jesus.

:9  not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

When we accept Christ, we are trusting that He will make us right with God through His death on the cross.

When Jesus died on the cross, God put on Jesus the punishment that was meant for me.  Jesus paid the entire price for my sins.  But God also took the righteousness of Jesus and gave it to me.  And exchange of my sin for His righteousness.

If I am trusting in my own good deeds, in my own “righteousness”, then the picture is that when I get to stand before God, that’s what I’ll be clothed in, my own deeds.  Isaiah says that our own “righteousness” is as filthy rags:

(Isa 64:6 KJV)  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.


The Beggar's Rags

A beggar lived near the king’s palace. One day he saw a proclamation posted outside the palace gate. The king was giving a great dinner. Anyone dressed in royal garments was invited to the party.  The beggar went on his way. He looked at the rags he was wearing and sighed. Surely only kings and their families wore royal robes, he thought.  Slowly an idea crept into his mind. The audacity of it made him tremble. Would he dare?  He made his way back to the palace. He approached the guard at the gate. “Please,sire, I would like to speak to the king.”  “Wait here,” the guard replied.  In a few minutes, he was back. “His majesty will see you,” he said, and led the beggar in.   “You wish to see me?” asked the king.  “Yes, your majesty. I want so much to attend the banquet, but I have no royal robes to wear. Please, sir, if I may be so bold, may I have one of your old garments so that I, too, may come to the banquet?”  The beggar shook so hard that he could not see the faint smile that was on the king’s face.  “You have been wise in coming to me,” the king said. He called to his son, the young prince. “Take this man to your room and array him in some of your clothes.”  The prince did as he was told and soon the beggar was standing before a mirror, clothed in garments that he had never dared hope for.  “You are now eligible to attend the king’s banquet tomorrow night,” said the prince. “But even more important, you will never need any other clothes. These garments will last forever.”  The beggar dropped to his knees. “Oh, thank you,” he cried. But as he started to leave, he looked back at his pile of dirty rags on the floor. He hesitated. What if the prince was wrong? What if he would need his old clothes again. Quickly he gathered them up.  The banquet was far greater than he had ever imagined, but he could not enjoy himself as he should. He had made a small bundle of his old rags and it kept falling off his lap. The food was passed quickly and the beggar missed some of the greatest delicacies.  Time proved that the prince was aright. The clothes lasted forever. Still the poor beggar grew fonder and fonder of his old rags.  As time passed people seemed to forget the royal robes he was wearing. They saw only the little bundle of filthy rags that he clung to wherever he went. They even spoke of him as the old man with the rags.  One day as he lay dying, the king visited him. The beggar saw the sad look on the king’s face when he looked at the small bundle of rags by the bed. Suddenly the beggar remembered the prince’s words and he realized that his bundle of rags had cost him a lifetime of true royalty. He wept bitterly at his folly.  And the king wept with him.

We have been invited into a royal family—the family of God. To feast at God’s dinner table, all we have to do is shed our old rags and put on the “new clothes” of faith which is provided by God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  But we cannot hold onto our old rags. When we put our faith in Christ, we must let go of the sin in our life, and our old ways of living. Those things must be discarded if we are to experience true royalty and abundant life in Christ. “Behold, the old is passed away; the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Edited from More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice.  Copyright 1995 by Youth Specialties, Inc.

:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

being made conformablesummorphoo – to be conformed to, receive the same form as

The resurrected life always follows the crucified life.

:11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

attainkatantao – to come to, arrive; to come to a place over against, opposite another; metaph. to attain to a thing

(Phil 3:11 NASB)  in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

attainedlambano – to take; to take with the hand, lay hold of, any person or thing in order to use it; to take to one’s self, lay hold upon, take possession of, i.e. to appropriate to one’s self; to receive (what is given), to gain, get, obtain, to get back

perfectteleioo – to make perfect, complete; to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end; to complete (perfect)

follow afterdioko – to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away; to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after; to press on: figuratively of one who in a race runs swiftly to reach the goal; to persecute; without the idea of hostility, to run after, follow after: someone; metaph., to pursue; to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavour to acquire

(NAS)  I press on

apprehend … apprehendedkatalambano – to lay hold of; to lay hold of so as to make one’s own, to obtain, attain to, to make one’s own, to take into one’s self, appropriate; to seize upon, take possession of; in a good sense, of Christ by his holy power and influence laying hold of the human mind and will, in order to prompt and govern it

When the Lord saved me, He had a purpose and a plan for my life.

He has works for me to do while I’m here on this earth.
(Eph 2:10 KJV)  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
He has a future for me in heaven forever.

Paul is saying that he hasn’t “arrived”.  He is not yet perfect.  But he’s going to pursue Jesus relentlessly so that he can do the things that Jesus has planned for him.

:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

to have apprehendedkatalambano – to lay hold of; to lay hold of so as to make one’s own, to obtain, attain to, to make one’s own, to take into one’s self, appropriate; to seize upon, take possession of; in a good sense, of Christ by his holy power and influence laying hold of the human mind and will, in order to prompt and govern it

forgettingepilanthanomai – to forget; neglecting, no longer caring for; forgotten, given over to oblivion, i.e. uncared for

reaching forthepekteinomai – to stretch out to or towards; to stretch (one’s self) forward to


Don’t look back

I think that sometimes we are just too caught up in the past.
I don’t think it’s bad that we deal with our past, but if we’re not careful, we’ll get swallowed up in the past and never take the time to live in the present.
When Cortez landed at Vera Cruz in 1519 to begin his conquest of Mexico with small force of 700 men, he purposely set fire to his fleet of 11 ships.  His men on the shore watched their only means of retreat sinking to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.  With no means of retreat, there was only one direction to move, forward into the Mexican interior to meet whatever might come their way.  In paying the price for being Christ's disciple, you too must purposefully destroy all avenues of retreat.  Resolve that whatever the price for being His follower, you will have to pay it.

-- Walter Henricksen, Disciples Are Made -- Not Born

:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

markskopos – an observer, a watchman; the distant mark looked at, the goal or end one has in view

It’s the tape at the end of the race.

the prizebrabeion – the award to the victor in the games, a prize; metaph. of the heavenly reward for Christian character


Move forward

Set your sights on home and move forward.
One morning a couple of cowpunchers went out on the range to bring in a wild steer from the mountains.  They took along with them one of those shaggy little gray donkeys -- a burro.  Now a big three-year old steer that's been running loose in the timber is a tough customer to handle.  Nevertheless, these cowboys had a technique for handling this steer.  They got a rope on the steer and then they tied him neck and neck, right up close, to the burro and let them go.
At first, the burro had a bad time.  The steer threw him all over the place. He banged him against trees, rocks, into bushes. Time after time they both went down.  But there was one great difference between the burro and the steer. The burro had an idea.  He wanted to go home. And no matter how often the steer threw him every time the burro got to his feet he took a step nearer the corral.  This went on and on.  After about a week, the burro showed up at the corral.  He had with him the tamest and sorriest-looking steer you ever saw.
It’s tough some times, but we need to set our sights on home and keep moving.
It’s when we get home that we get our reward.

:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

perfect – (NIV) mature


Pressing on is a mark of maturity.

Maturity in the Christian life doesn’t mean that you no longer have trials and temptations.
Maturity means that you don’t quit, but you keep moving forward.
(Prov 24:16 KJV)  For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

:16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

attainedphthano – to come before, precede, anticipate; to come to, arrive at; to reach, attain to

(Phil 3:16 NASB)  however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

Don’t be going backwards.

:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

followers togethersummimetes – an imitator of others; to “mimic” “with” someone.

mark themskopeo – to look at, observe, contemplate; to mark; to fix one’s eyes upon, direct one’s attention to, any one; to look to, take heed to thyself.  This is related to the word skopos in verse 14, the “mark” that we are to keep our eyes fixed on in running the race.


Watch good examples.

One of the things we keep our eyes on are the ones in the race ahead of us.
Athletes will often watch films of other famous stars to study their techniques.  I remember reading a quote a week ago about one of this year’s big swimming stars, how the other athletes were in such awe that they could hardly wait to study the film of this guy’s swimming style.
I think a good practice is to take time to read biographies of the great men and women of faith throughout history.  Look at their example.  I’ve enjoyed reading biographies of men like Dwight Moody, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, John Wesley, and Billy Graham.

:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

weepingklaio – to mourn, weep, lament; weeping as the sign of pain and grief for the thing signified (i.e. for the pain and grief)

Paul was quite upset when talking about this subject.

enemies – not everyone follows the right examples.

:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

destructionapoleia – destroying, utter destruction; a perishing, ruin, destruction; the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell

These are the examples we DON’T want to follow.

bellykoilia – the whole belly, the entire cavity; the upper [i.e. stomach] and the lower belly are distinguished; the lower belly, the lower region, the receptacle of the excrement; the gullet; to be given up to the pleasures of the palate, to gluttony; the womb, the place where the fetus is conceived and nourished until birth; the innermost part of a man, the soul, heart as the seat of thought, feeling, choice


Don’t live by your appetites

Talking about appetites:
The FBI Orders Pizza
FBI agents conducted a raid of a psychiatric hospital in San Diego that  was under investigation for medical insurance fraud. After hours of  reviewing thousands of medical records, the dozens of agents had worked  up quite an appetite. The agent in charge of the investigation called a  nearby pizza parlor with delivery service to order a quick dinner for  his colleagues. The following telephone conversation took place and was  recorded by the FBI because they were taping all conversations at the  hospital.
Agent: Hello. I'd like to order 19 large pizzas and 67 cans of soda.
Pizza Man: And where would you like them delivered?
Agent: We're over at the psychiatric hospital.
Pizza Man: The psychiatric hospital?
Agent: That's right. I'm an FBI agent.
Pizza Man: You're an FBI agent?
Agent: That's correct. Just about everybody here is.
Pizza Man: And you're at the psychiatric hospital?
Agent: That's correct. And make sure you don't go through the front  doors. We have them locked. You'll have to go around to the back  service entrance to deliver the pizzas.
Pizza Man: And you say you're all FBI agents?
Agent: That's right. How soon can you have them here?
Pizza Man: Everyone at the psychiatric hospital is an FBI agent?
Agent: That's right. We've been here all day and we're starving.
Pizza Man: How are you going to pay for all of this?
Agent: I have my checkbook right here.
Pizza Man: And you're all FBI agents?
Agent: That's right. Everyone here is an FBI agent. Can you remember to  bring the pizzas and sodas to the service entrance in the rear? We have  the front doors locked.
Pizza Man: I don't think so.
Seriously …
A person who lives according to their appetites.  Their life is built around satisfying the next craving.
This is the kind of person who is an “enemy of the cross of Christ”. (vs.18)
There are even Christians who can fall into this category.
When we refuse to live a “crucified” life, the life of the cross, we will fall into the category of those who follow their own fleshly desires, whose “God is their belly”.
Jesus said,
(Mat 16:24 KJV)  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

shameaischune – the confusion of one who is ashamed of anything, sense of shame; ignominy, disgrace, dishonour; a thing to be ashamed of

earthlyepigeios – existing upon the earth, earthly, terrestrial

You see a lot of stuff on TV where people are quite proud of the very things they ought to be ashamed of.  They have no sense of purity, holiness, right and wrong.

:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

conversationpoliteuma – the administration of civil affairs or of a commonwealth; the constitution of a commonwealth, form of government and the laws by which it is administered; a state, commonwealth; the commonwealth of citizens

(Phil 3:20 NASB)  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

We are no longer “earthly” people.  We now have a new nature that comes from heaven itself.  We are strangers in this world.

:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

changemetaschematizo – to change the figure of, to transform

viletapeinosis – lowness, low estate

fashioned likesummorphos – having the same form as another, similar, conformed to

subduehupotasso – to arrange under, to subordinate; to subject, put in subjection; to subject one’s self, obey; to submit to one’s control; to yield to one’s admonition or advice; to obey, be subject

He will change our bodies to be like His own glorified body.  He will use the same power that He will exert to bring the whole world into subjection to Himself.

We will be like Him.

(1 John 3:2 NASB)  Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.
We’re not sure just what these bodies will look like, but they’ll be like His glorified body.
He could fly.  He could walk through walls.  Cool stuff.

Philippians 4

:1  Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

dearly belovedagapetos – beloved, esteemed, dear, favorite, worthy of love

longed forepipothetos – longed for

stand faststeko – to stand firm; to persevere, to persist; to keep one’s standing

Why stand fast?  Because Jesus is coming and will change us (3:21).

:2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

EuodiasEuodia – “fragrant"

SyntycheSuntuche – “with fate"

same mind – the same phrase that was used back in:

Php 2:2  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

There, the key was in verses 2:3-4, being humble and thinking of others more than yourselves.
It’s possible that these two gals are the reason for Paul writing the first part of Philippians 2.

:3 And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

truegnesios – legitimately born, not spurious; true, genuine, sincere

yokefellowsuzugos – yoked together; of those united by the bond of marriage, relationship, office, labour, study, business, or the like; of a yoke fellow, consort, comrade, colleague, partner

Paul is referring to someone in leadership at the church.

helpsullambano – to seize, take: one as prisoner; to take hold together with one, to assist, help, to succour

labouredsunathleo – to strive at the same time with another.  “with” + “sports”; team sports.  These gals had been on Paul’s “team”.

ClementKlemes – mild, merciful"; a companion of Paul and apparently a member of the church of Philippi. According to tradition, he is identical with that Clement who was bishop of Rome towards the close of the first century.

fellowlabourerssunergos – a companion in work, fellow worker

whose names are in the book of life – a book of the names of all who are saved.

This is probably a nice way for Paul to mention the others who have helped, but he forgets their names!

:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

rejoicechairo – to rejoice, be glad; to rejoice exceedingly


Rejoicing in the Lord.

We don’t necessarily have to rejoice in our circumstances, but we rejoice in the Lord.
A number of years ago there was a series of books published starting with one called “Prison to Praise”.  The author’s whole point was to talk about the transformation that took place in his life when he began to praise God in all his circumstances.

But there became a teaching where people were taught to praise the Lord for all their circumstances, including the horrible ones.  For some people it was an exercise of trying to talk themselves into being happy, even when they weren’t.  It was very confusing for many people.

We can rejoice always not because of our circumstances.  We can rejoice always because of the Lord.

I may not always understand what I’m going through, but God has never changed.  He still loves me.  He’s still all powerful.  He’s still all wise.  And so I can rejoice in Him because I know I’m in good hands.

:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

moderationepieikes – seeming, suitable; equitable, fair, mild, gentle

(Phil 4:5 NIV)  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

at handeggus – near, of place and position; of times imminent and soon to come pass

The Lord is near both in position as well as in time.

He is right next to us.  He’s in our heart.
He is coming back soon.

So be gentle.

:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

carefulmerimnao – to be anxious; to be troubled with cares; to care for, look out for (a thing)

Don’t worry about anything.


Fear can begin to affect our behavior and our actions. Eventually it will have a negative effect on our health. It can lessen the quality and shorten the longevity of our lives. The story has been told of Death walking toward a city. A man stopped Death and asked, “What are you going to do ?”
“I’m going to kill 10,000 people.” Death replied.
“That’s horrible.”
“That’s the way it is,” Death said. “That’s what I do.”
So the day passed. That evening the man met Death coming back, and he said, “You said you were only going to kill 10,000 people, but I heard that 70,000 were killed.”
Death said, “But I only killed 10,000. Worry and fear killed the others.”
-- Gary J. Oliver, Real Men Have Feelings Too, (Moody, 1993), p. 82.

prayerproseuche – prayer addressed to God; prayer in general

supplicationdeesis – need, indigence, want, privation, penury; a seeking, asking, entreating, entreaty to God or to man.  The main focus in this word is the idea of bringing specific needs to the Lord.

thanksgivingeucharistia – thankfulness; the giving of thanks

requestsaitema – petition, request, required


Handle with prayer.

There was a song that said, “Don’t worry, be happy”.  That’s NOT Paul’s thought here.
To me, “be happy” sounds like we’re not supposed to do anything, just smile.
But Paul says that we’re supposed to DO SOMETHING about the things that make us worry.
Prayer is supposed to be a last resort.  It’s not supposed to be the thing we hold off doing until we have nothing else to do.  “Well, I guess there’s nothing we can do now except pray.”

be knowngnorizo – to make known.  The verb is a present tense.  We are to keep continually making our requests known to God.


Keep praying.

There are teachers that would tell you that you lack faith if you pray more than once.  Yet the Bible makes is VERY CLEAR that we are to pray and KEEP praying.
(Luke 18:1-8 NLT)  One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must never give up. {2} "There was a judge in a certain city," he said, "who was a godless man with great contempt for everyone. {3} A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, appealing for justice against someone who had harmed her. {4} The judge ignored her for a while, but eventually she wore him out. 'I fear neither God nor man,' he said to himself, {5} 'but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!'" {6} Then the Lord said, "Learn a lesson from this evil judge. {7} Even he rendered a just decision in the end, so don't you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? {8} I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when I, the Son of Man, return, how many will I find who have faith?"
We need to learn the lesson of persistent prayer.
How bad do you want it?
I have this idea that sometimes God wants to know just how serious we are about the things we pray for.  I don’t mean that He’s got this mean streak in Him and that He won’t answer our prayers until we pray fifty thousand times.  But I think that sometimes He might withhold things until we get to the place where we’ve got the proper heart to receive something, a heart that is yearning for God to work.  I think that sometimes He is waiting to see if we’re really going to expect Him to answer our prayers, or if we’re just shooting up some words while we turn around and try to solve the problem ourselves.


Pray with thanksgiving

For me, this is often the key not only to receiving our requests, but also in receiving the peace that God has for us.
Thanksgiving is one of those things that demonstrate our trust.
If I can say “thanks” to God before He answers my prayer, and I really mean it, it’s demonstrating that I really believe that God is going to answer my prayer.

Let’s say I go out to lunch with a friend.  After the waitress drops off the bill, my friend grabs the check and says, “Hey, this one is on me.  I’ll pay for lunch this time, you can pay next time.”  I will say “thanks” because I believe that he will pay the bill.  I won’t wait until he pays, I’ll say it before he pays.

When we lift our requests to the Lord, we need to get to the place where we can say “thanks” to Him.

My “thanks” shouldn’t be some kind of arm twisting of God, as if I were to thank Him for answering my prayer the way I want Him to.  Instead, my “thanks” is because I truly believe that He has heard me, and I believe He will respond to my prayer, and because I truly believe that however He answers my prayer, it will be for the best.

:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

peaceeirene – a state of national tranquillity; peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord; security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)

passethhuperecho – to have or hold over one; to stand out, rise above, overtop; to excel, to be superior, better than, to surpass

It’s really not fair to try and describe this peace because it is beyond understanding.  You’ll know it when you have it.

shall keepphroureo – to guard, protect by a military guard, either to prevent hostile invasion, or to keep the inhabitants of a besieged city from flight; to protect by guarding, to keep

hearts and minds – not just the emotional protection, but even that of the mind.

:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

truealethes – true; loving the truth, speaking the truth, truthful

honestsemnos – august, venerable, reverend; to be venerated for character, honourable

justdikaios – righteous, observing divine laws; in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God; innocent, faultless, guiltless

purehagnos – exciting reverence, venerable, sacred; pure; pure from carnality, chaste, modest; pure from every fault, immaculate; clean

lovelyprosphiles – acceptable, pleasing

good reporteuphemos – sounding well; uttering words of good omen, speaking auspiciously

virtuearete – a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action; virtue, moral goodness; any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity

praiseepainos – approbation, commendation, praise

thinklogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over


The thought life.

An awful lot of our troubles can be changed right here.
There used to be an old phrase about computer programming:  “Garbage in, garbage out”.  The idea was that if you used bad programming and put in bad commands, you were going to get troubles from your computer.
What kinds of things do we put into our minds?
How do they match up with these standards?
What’s your focus on?

Tom Friends of The New York Times asked coach Jimmy Johnson what he told his players before leading the Dallas Cowboys onto the field for the 1993 Super Bowl.

“I told them that if I laid a two-by-four across the floor, everybody there would walk across it and not fall, because our focus would be on walking the length of that board. But if I put that same board 10 stories high between two buildings, only a few would make it, because the focus would be on falling.”

Johnson told his players not to focus on the crowd, the media, or the possibility of falling, but to focus on each play of the game as if it were a good practice session. The Cowboys won the game 52-7.

-- Steve Chandler in 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself. Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.

What kinds of things are going into your mind?

Leave the old life behind and press on, looking to Jesus.

In reality, there is one person who best fits all these adjectives.  It’s Jesus.

:9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

learnedmanthano – to learn, be appraised; to increase one’s knowledge, to be increased in knowledge; to hear, be informed

receivedparalambano – to take to, to take with one’s self, to join to one’s self

heardakouo – to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf; to hear; to understand, perceive the sense of what is said; to hear something

seeneido – to see; to perceive with the eyes; to perceive by any of the senses; to perceive, notice, discern, discover; to pay attention, observe


Don’t just say it, live it.

Paul was their teacher.  But he hadn’t just given them a bunch of words.  He let them get close enough to him to see him actually live like he taught.
Parents – it’s an old saying, “Do what I say, not what I do”.  It’s very true.  If our kids don’t see us living it out, it’s going to be a lot harder for them to learn to be any different than we are.

doprasso – to exercise, practise, to be busy with, carry on; to undertake, to do; to accomplish, perform


Practice makes peace.

Living in God’s peace isn’t just something that happens when we have that breakthrough time in prayer.
Living a life of God’s peace comes when we put all these things into daily practice.

:10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

carephroneo – to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for; to seek one’s interest or advantage

Paul’s glad that they’re thinking of him.

hath flourishedanathallo – to shoot up, sprout again, grow green again, flourish again

lacked opportunityakaireomai – to lack opportunity; it wasn’t “time” for them to help.

Paul is talking about how he has received a gift from the church in Philippi to support his ministry.  He’s thankful for the gift.

:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

wanthusteresis – want, poverty

Paul’s not thankful just because he was in need and their funds showed up just in time.

I have learnedmanthano – to learn, be appraised; to increase one’s knowledge, to be increased in knowledge; to hear, be informed; to learn by use and practice; to be in the habit of, accustomed to.  This is an “aorist” past tense, meaning that Paul has learned this once and for all.

contentautarkes – sufficient for one’s self, strong enough or processing enough to need no aid or support; independent of external circumstances; contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest

:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

abasedtapeinoo – to make low, bring low; to level, reduce to a plain; metaph. to bring into a humble condition, reduce to meaner circumstances; to assign a lower rank or place to; to be ranked below others who are honoured or rewarded; to humble or abase myself by humble living

A tough list of things to learn!

abound - perisseuo - to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure; a thing which comes in abundance, or overflows unto one, something falls to the lot of one in large measure

I am instructedmueo – to initiate into the mysteries; to teach fully, instruct; to accustom one to a thing; to give one an intimate acquaintance with a thing

(NAS) I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry,


Learn the secret.

It’s not a matter of being a person who’s just normally happy all the time.
It’s something we can learn.  It’s not a common thing, it’s a secret, but it can still be learned.

:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

I can handle anything that comes my way, whether poverty or riches, because Jesus is working in me.

I can doischuo – to be strong; to be strong in body, to be robust, to be in sound health; to have power; to have power as shown by extraordinary deeds; to exert, wield power, to have strength to overcome; to be able, can

which strengthenethendunamoo – to be strong, endue with strength, strengthen


The secret is Jesus in me.

Samson was a “can do” kind of guy.
He could do just about anything.  His secret wasn’t in his hair, it was in his commitment to God, being a “Nazirite”.  It was when he strayed too far from his commitment to God that he lost his strength.
I heard a great illustration a couple of weeks ago (Dave Dunagan’s message on Phil. 4).  It was about a train on its tracks.  When you look at these huge diesel engines that go by here all the time, you could imagine them saying, “I can do all things”.  Think of the Little Engine that Could.  But there’s a limit to what a huge diesel engine can do.  It is only as functional as it’s ability to stay on the track.  If the train gets off the track, it isn’t going anywhere.
We can do all things, but only as we stay on track with Christ.  When we stray from what His will is for us, don’t expect to be playing Superman.  Expect to crash.

:14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

communicate withsugkoinoneo – to become a partaker together with others, or to have fellowship with a thing.

They shared with Paul by sending money.

:15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

communicatedkoinoneo – to come into communion or fellowship with, to become a sharer, be made a partner; to enter into fellowship, join one’s self to an associate, make one’s self a sharer or partner

:16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

:17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

Paul’s not glad because he’s received some funds.  He’s glad because the Philippians are going to be blessed for giving.

:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

shall supplypleroo – to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally; to render full, i.e. to complete; to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim

needchreia – necessity, need; duty, business


Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Zaire (formerly the Belgian Congo), told the following story: “A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby.  We tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle we had was beyond repair.  So during devotions that morning we asked the children to pray for the baby and for her little sister who was now an orphan.  One of the girls responded, “Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today.  Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead.  And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she won’t feel so lonely.” That afternoon a large parcel arrived from England.  Eagerly the children watched as we opened it.  Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle!  Immediately the girl who had prayed so earnestly started to delve deeper, exclaiming, “If God sent that, I’m sure He also send at doll.”  And she was right! The Heavenly Father knew in advance of the child’s sincere requests, and 5 months before, He had led a ladies group to include both of those specific articles.”

:20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

:21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.

Salute … greetaspazomai – to draw to one’s self; to salute one, greet, bid welcome, wish well to; to receive joyfully, welcome; of those who visit one to see him a little while, departing almost immediately afterwards; to pay respects to a distinguished person by visiting him; of those who greet one whom they meet in the way; a salutation was made not merely by a slight gesture and a few words, but generally by embracing and kissing, a journey was retarded frequently by saluting.

:22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.

Again, Paul had been chained to a Roman guard continually.  These guys now send their greeting through Paul to Philippi.

:23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.