The Peace of God (Philippians 4:2-9)

Paul gives some final exhortations to the Philippian Christians. First, he beseeches two women to agree with each other in the Lord and asks a co-worker to help them resolve their disagreement. Next, he encourages the Philippians to pray, rather than worry, about things. Finally, he urges them to think about things that are virtuous and praiseworthy and to follow his teachings and example.

2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV.)

Euodia and Syntyche, two women who had ministered with Paul and others, disagreed with each other, probably for one of the reasons given in 2:3–strife (rivalry) or vainglory. This harmed the unity and witness of the church, and Paul entreats them to resolve their disagreement by agreeing with each other in the Lord. He also asks an unnamed co-worker to help the women resolve their disagreement.

“To agree” in 4:2 is the same as “being of the same mind” in 2:2, suggesting that Paul’s request to Euodia and Syntyche is an application of his earlier appeal to the Philippians to show humility to bring about unity (2:1-4). Its being followed by “in the Lord” indicates that Paul is asking the two women to set aside their personal interests and end their quarrel because of their common bond in the Lord even if they can’t agree on the matter that they’d quarrelled about. He may have waited until near the end of his letter to make his request to them because he wanted to lead up to it, for example by 2:1-11.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Paul gives the Philippians four commands because of the nearness of the Lord, by which he may mean that the Lord is near the Christian at all times or that he is coming back soon or both:

  • Rejoice in the Lord always.
  • Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.
  • Do not be anxious about anything.
  • Let your requests be made known to God.

Paul says that if the Philippians obey these commands the peace of God will keep their hearts and minds, giving them an inner sense of contentment regardless of the circumstances.

“With thanksgiving” is a reminder that prayer consists of more than requests. Its main aspects are identified in the ACTS prayer model as Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Paul tells the Philippians to think about virtuous and praiseworthy things, which he describes as true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. Since these qualities were extolled by pagan writers and not distinctively Christian, he may have been encouraging the Philippians to accept what was good in their culture rather than automatically rejecting everything in it because it wasn’t Christian.

Paul goes on to tell the Philippians to follow his teachings and example because in them they’d see the qualities listed in verse 8 exemplified by one who, as he observes in 1 Corinthians 11:1, followed Christ’s example. Thus, he may have been cautioning them that acceptance of their culture should be in the light of their Christian faith.

Paul concludes by telling the Philippians that thinking about things that are virtuous and praiseworthy and following his teachings and example would result in their not only having the peace of God but enjoying His presence. May the God of peace also be with you.

Yesterday evening the Life group which my wife, Leonora, and I host discussed Philippians 4:2-9 guided by the questions given in “The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups.”

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2 thoughts on “The Peace of God (Philippians 4:2-9)

  1. Allison

    “Paul tells the Philippians to think about virtuous and praiseworthy things, which he describes as true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable.”

    I didn’t know that these qualities were extolled by pagan writers, but I like the conclusion you drew. There are many aspects of culture that are good, meaning there is no reason to reject them. At the same time, there’s also bad stuff, and so we also need to be cautious to accept culture only in the light of Christian faith. At times, that can be a difficult balance.

    Reply

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