Paul: “Thank you very much”
Keep the faith1 Dear family, I love you and I want to be with you. There’s just one more thing I’d ask you to do. Take a stand for the Lord, my dear friends. You bring joy into my life. I’m so proud of you.
Stop arguing2 I’m asking Euodia and Syntche to get along with each other because you both belong to the Lord. 3 And I’m asking you, Syzygus, to help these women. They have worked right alongside me, Clement, and others in preaching the Good News. Their names are written in the book of life.
Think positive4 The Lord gives you every reason to rejoice. So do it. I’ll say it again, rejoice! 5 Earn a reputation as a gentle spirit. The Lord is coming soon. 6 Don’t worry yourselves about anything. Pray about everything. Take all of your requests and your gratitude to God. 7 Divine peace from God himself, which we can’t begin to understand, will settle deep inside you, guarding your hearts and your minds because you belong to Christ Jesus.
8 Focus on good things. Let your mind dwell on whatever’s true. Whatever’s honorable. Whatever’s just. Whatever’s pure. Whatever’s lovely. Whatever’s commendable. If you come across anything worth praising, let your mind spend time there. 9 You’ve seen me. You’ve heard me. You’ve received from me. You’ve learned from me. Put all of this into practice. Divine peace from God will settle in on you.
Thanks for the gifts10 I’m thanking the Lord a lot these days because you’ve shown once again that you care about me. I know you’ve cared all along. But until now you haven’t had a way to express it. 11 I’m not saying this because I’m needy. I’m not. I’ve learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be poor. And I know what it is to be rich. You see, I’ve learned a secret. It helps me whether I’m well-fed or hungry, whether I have lots or little.
13 I can do anything with the Lord’s help. 14 Still, I want you to know that it was noble of you to help me during this crisis of mine. 15 You Philippian folks know that when I started my ministry there and left Macedonia, no other church supported me. Only you. 16 I remember that even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me gifts more than once to help me with my ministry needs. 17 I’m not asking for a gift. Instead, I want you to get full credit for your kindness.
18 I’ve been given everything I need, and more. I have plenty of supplies now that I’ve received the gift you sent with Epaphroditus. I accept it like a fragrant sacrificial offering that delights God. 19 My God will give you everything you need from his treasure in Christ Jesus. 20 To God our Father, who deserves our gratitude and praise forever. Amen. 21 Say hello for me to all people devoted to Jesus the Messiah. The brothers with me send their hellos as well. 22 All the followers of Jesus here, especially those who serve in Caesar’s home, say hello. 23 May the kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ bless your spirit.
Euodia (you OO dee uh) and Syntche (SIN tuh chee).
It’s unclear if Paul was talking about a Christian named Syzgus (SOO zee gus), or someone else. The Greek word can also refer to an associate or a partner. Other Bibles translate the word as “true companion,” and “true partner,” and “true comrade.”
The book of life is a book, either actual or figurative, in which the names of God’s people are recorded. These are the people who will be saved to live in heaven in the afterlife. See Revelation 21:27.
Paul is quoting a common expression from the Jewish Bible, which Christians usually call the Old Testament. “The sweet aroma of barbecue delighted the LORD” (Genesis 8:31).
The Greek word, charis, is often translated “grace.” It also means “loving-kindness,” “good will.” And it often refers to the merciful kindness of God.
How do you react to the fact that in one paragraph Paul talks about how happy and how proud he is of the Philippian Christians. Then in the very next paragraph he calls out two women by name—Euodia (you OO dee uh) and Syntche (SIN tuh chee) (4:2)—and tells them to stop arguing with each other?
Under arrest and awaiting trial, Paul tells the people of Philippi to think positive: “The Lord gives you every reason to rejoice. So do it. I’ll say it again, rejoice!” (4:4). Is he crazy? Why do you think he would write such an upbeat letter in a downbeat time of crisis?
Given Paul’s circumstances along with what he says in Philippians 4:4-9, what kind of example do you think Paul was setting for the people of Philippi by focusing on the positive? How might Paul’s words in this situation affect the way they live?
Paul tells the people to concentrate on good things, to let their minds focus on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable. What do you think he had in mind? What are some examples?
When you read the part of Paul’s letter in which he thanks the people in Philippi for the gift they sent by way of Epaphroditus (4:10-18), what do you read between the lines? Does Paul seem comfortable with thanking them?
When Paul sends his final greetings, he passes along hellos from different groups of people, “especially those who serve in Caesar’s home” (4:22). Why do you think he would single them out with a word like “especially”?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul calls on someone, perhaps a church leader Syzgus (SOO zee gus), to help settle the dispute between the two ladies. There’s a proverb about that: “Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears” (Proverbs 26:17 New Living Translation). If Syzgus came to you with Paul’s letter in one hand and the proverb in another and he asked for your advice on which way to go, what advice would you give him?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul has a fine collection of inspiring statements he makes in Philippians 4. What is one that is especially meaningful to you—something that grabs your attention as you read it?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul has some deeply inspiring words in Philippians 4:4-8. Can you think of a situation in which those words might be helpful to someone?