Philippians 4:2-9 Rejoice in the Lord WC McCarter
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Final Call for Unity (2-3)
Paul will now give specific application to the message he has taught about unity in the church, and his exhortation in verse one becomes a bridge from the last point into the next. By way of introduction, he says stand fast in the Lord. This allows him to then go on to give practical application of that phrase. Unity is a must for any local church (see 2:2) and the Apostle calls out a few here that will be key figures for that unity in Philippi. Apparently two notable women in the church could not agree with each other on some point. We don’t even know what the argument was or which of the two were really in the wrong. Paul repeats the verb “implore” in speaking to both of the women separately. He does not take sides. The disharmony would discontinue if they would stand fast in the Lord and not in their opinions. It seems to be more of a personality clash than a doctrinal issue.
The church is really the only assembly of people from all walks of life. The Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God, is made up of different genders, different races, different ages, different languages, different levels of education, different levels of financial status…the church incorporates us all. AND there are bound to be some clashes! Yet, we are exhorted “to be of the same mind in the Lord.”
Also, those outside of a “clash” are to help those involved. All of these people are fellow workers alongside Paul. They are Christians. Their names are written in the Book of Life. “Clashes” do not cast us out of salvation, but they have that potential. Do we not know that everything we do and say has an impact? (Especially for those of us who are mature in Christ). We may think that we are standing up for a noble cause, but instead we are inflicting wounds on others that may be difficult to heal. Often, instead of standing fast in our opinions, we need to stand fast in the Lord. After all, we are to be true companions, laborers together in the Gospel, and fellow workers. The word Paul uses for laboring in the Gospel is a word most often used in those days for contending in battle or competing in athletic games. Paul says that these women, and some others, were right alongside him battling for the progress of the Gospel; not physically battling, but spiritually contending for Gospel progress.
The Book of Life actually has Old Testament roots. Moses, David, and Isaiah all referred to it. The Apostle John also referenced it.
Joy and Anxiety (4-7)
(Rejoice) Paul leaves us no space to ask the question, how, after he says “rejoice in the Lord always” because he quickly follows it up by with “again I will say rejoice.” You have heard me say on several occasions that joy is something that can be experienced at all times because it is not an emotion. Emotions change with the weather, but JOY is a rock. I propose to you that the Lord Jesus Christ is Joy, He is our joy. Psalm 95 says, “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is the great God, And the great King above all gods.” Christ is the Rock of our salvation that cannot be moved and all that knowledge can do is cause us to rejoice (shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation). Therefore, when a baby is born we can rejoice; when a Christian dies we can rejoice; when we are struck with an illness we can rejoice; though our eyes begin to fade we will rejoice. With David we will say, “I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”
(Gentleness) It is easy to be gentle with certain people of our choosing, but this word declares that we are responsible for making our gentleness known to all. One person says, “[A] gentle spirit will do much to disarm the adversary” (Kent Jr.). Thus, Jesus says, “Agree with your adversary quickly. . . .” Now, this word for gentleness is a combination of many ideas including gentle, yielding, kind, forbearing, and consideration. It probably refers to returning good for evil.
“The Lord is at hand” is a promise and word of comfort that the Lord is near to those who belong to Him.
(Peace) How can you be anxious for nothing? In everything let your requests be known to God How do we make our requests known? By prayer and supplication, with/after thanksgiving.
We should not have undue concerns in this life. Should Christians be free from concerns? No, but we must have a godly mind for the things with which God is concerned. On many occasions we concern ourselves with things that are none of our business, or with petty things, or things that are out of our control. Christ says, “…do not worry about tomorrow…” When we finally come to this point in our lives, when we truly make our requests known to God in everything, we will know the peace that surpasses all understanding (SEE Eph 3:20-21). It could also have the meaning of surpassing value rather than the transcending of our understanding (SEE 3:8). Either way, it will be inexplicable, even incomprehensible… It is the peace of God… And it will guard our hearts and minds. Joy takes the place of our anxiety. The Bible teaches us to look away from ourselves to the needs of our brothers and sisters; yield our wants and even rights for the sake of our brethren. “And as far as your needs are concerned, bring them all before God in an attitude of thankfulness for what he has already given you” (Silva).
A little phrase at the end of verse five puts it all in perspective: “The Lord is at hand.” Specifically of gentleness it can be said that the soon return of Christ is a reminder that He is Judge and we are not (praise the Lord for that fact!). We can be gentle knowing that the Lord will give to each in accordance with his works. Also, this is of foremost importance concerning both joy and peace. We rejoice in the Lord always, knowing that our time here on earth will soon come to an end and the coming of Christ will inaugurate even greater things of joy that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no heart has received. And that is peace. It even surpasses understanding! The Lord will soon return.
Obedience and Peace (8-9)
We Christians should keep on thinking and doing what is morally and spiritually excellent. We need to put into practice what we have learned of God’s word. We need to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. We need to not only store up treasures in heaven, but also set our minds on heavenly things. The Philippians could follow the example of the apostolic witness by what they had seen, we can follow the example of the apostles by reading their word which was inspired by God.
Instead of filling our minds with the worries of this world, we need to fill our minds with the things of God.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) We all need to be of the same mind: thinking the same, same attitude, same opinion, same goals. How can be have the same mind? If we are “in the Lord.”
(2) Peace becomes a major theme as we come to the close of the book. A strong, healthy church is not a perfect church. There are struggles and issues to resolve. Unity and peace are needed.