The Christians Joy and Crown
A Study of Philippians 4
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. -- Philippians 4: 1
The first word in Philippians 4 indicates that something has gone before. "Therefore" is a conjunction, and in order to understand what "therefore" concludes, we must turn back two verses.
For our conversation [politeuma, citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: -- Philippians 3: 20
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. -- Philippians 3: 21
As Christians, our citizenship is in heaven and we can look forward to Christ's return when our bodies will be like His resurrected body and when Christ will subdue all things therefore, because of this knowledge, we, "dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved." Men and women should want to stand fast in the Lord because of what Christ has done for them and because he is coming back.
According to the first verse of Philippians 4, who are the joy and crown of the Apostle Paul? The ones to whom he taught the Word of God. To those saved under his ministry Paul said, "You are my joy and crown; you stand fast." Twice he refers to those whom he has taught as "dearly beloved." Clearly, Paul has a strong attachment to these people.
In I Thessalonians Paul again points out that his brothers in Christ - those who had become brothers because of his ministry - were his joy and crown.
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? -- I Thessalonians 2: 19
For ye are our glory and joy. -- I Thessalonians 2: 20
With the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, those whom Paul had taught, those who were his hope, joy and crown, will appear before the Father, " ... even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming."
The words "stand fast" used in Philippians 4: 1 in the phrase "so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved" are the same usage as in Philippians 1: 27: " ... that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith [family faith] * of the gospel."
* The "common" faith of Titus 1: 4 and the "household" of faith in Galatians 6: 10 make up the "family" faith because Christianity is a family affair: the Father with His family, His children; God is our Father, we are His children.
Yeah! How can you help but get excited?
"Stand fast" literally means "to remain strong." When we stand together, we are strong. If I am strong in the Lord and you are strong in the Lord, together we move ahead. The ministry of the Apostle Paul as recorded in Acts 19 is an example of people who were strong in the Lord and, thus, they bore fruit. Acts 19 says that Paul took those strong in the faith and discussed the Word of God at the school of Tyrannus. Two years later all Asia Minor had heard of the Lord Jesus.
It was simply miraculous how the Word of God was spread throughout the country. Yet notice that II Timothy 1: 15 records that all Asia forsook Paul.
This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia, be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. II Timothy 1: 15
Paul's "joy and crown" apparently did not "stand fast" very long and thus their spiritual muscles became flaccid. The "joy and crown" became so weak that even before Paul died the greatness of the revelation which God had given to him had already been lost. And, for the most part, this knowledge is still lost today; very few people know about the mystery of "Christ in you the hope of glory." *
* To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. -- Colossians 1: 27
The Word says that all Asia heard the Word of the Lord Jesus; yet later, all Asia had left Paul. This reminds one of the Lord Jesus Christ who had the multitudes following Him because of signs, miracles and wonders. However, when the time approached for Him to be crucified, all fled and the rabble cried, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
Only when we as believers stand fast in the Lord will we be witnesses to the greatness of The Word.
I beseech [implore] Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. -- Philippians 4: 2
Paul said, "I implore you two to be of the same mind in the Lord." These two men disagreed, they were of different minds; therefore, they could not be strong in the Lord. If we are strong in the Lord we cannot have two opinions regarding truth. There can be two opinions regarding facts, but not regarding truth. The moment we begin having an opinion about truth, we are already wrong. Truth is truth; it is "thus saith the Lord." What we think does not make any difference. The reason we have opinions is that we do not "rightly divide" * the Word. If the Word of God is rightly divided, we have the true Word; when it is wrongly divided, we have error. When we wrongly divide the Word we are working for Satan. Whenever The Word is rightly divided, it again means, "Thus saith the Lord."
* Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. -- II Timothy 2: 15
Paul implored Euodias and Syntyche saying, "If you want to stand fast in the Lord, you must be of the same mind." One cannot be pulling one way and another the other way, and expect to be strong in the Lord. Philippians 2: 2 corroborates the truth that strength comes with being of one accord.
Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Philippians 2: 2
Paul's joy was fulfilled when they walked in the same mind. To have the same mind is to be of one accord, to have unity of purpose.
And I intreat 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. -- Philippians 4: 3
This is the only place in the Bible where the word "yokefellow" is used. Women also worked with the Apostle Paul in spreading the Gospel. Why, then, should people say that women have no right to preach, teach or share the Word?
When the Word says, "whose names are in the book of life," the book of life means a living, spiritual record of events which belongs to God. This is not a literal book, but rather a figure of speech. Our parents did not need a paper book to write down our names in order to know that we belonged to them; neither do we need a book to keep a record of our children's names and works. Just living is the record. So also are we in the mind of God. The Word says that He knew us from before the foundation of the world. God knew who would believe on His Son and would therefore be part of His family.
Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4: 4
If we know what we have in Christ, then we should rejoice in Him.
Let your moderation [forbearance or patience or self-control] be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Philippians 4: 5
The word "known" is a very unique word. There are five different Greek words for "to know"; it is the little differences of meaning that illuminate the accuracy of the Word. "Known" here is "to know by having learned or experienced."
"Let your moderation be known unto all men" does not fit into the Word. Why should our moderation be known to all men? It should be nobody else's business. No man should be judged in meat, in drink or in respect of an holy day. No man is to be our judge. When these words are accurately understood, the verse literally says, "Learn by experience forbearance toward all men."
"The Lord is at hand" means "the Lord is always at hand." This statement has nothing to do with the second coming. It simply exhorts the believers by reminding us that we have Christ in us. He is watching over us, so let us be mindful of this. Verse 5 says, "Learn by experience forbearance toward all men for Christ is in us."
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests [special petitions] be made known [declared] unto God. Philiippians 4: 6
Verse 6 begins with the clause, "Be careful for nothing." These words do not fit into the Word in the way a modern reader understands them. The word "careful" means anxious. The statement literally means, Do not be filled with anxiety regarding anything. We should be careful when it comes to the Word of God, but not worried and anxious because Christ is in us.
The key to "prayer and supplication" is in being specific regarding one's need and want. "Specifically, let your needs be declared unto God with thanksgiving," that your mind may be renewed in what you have in Him.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall [absolutely] keep your hearts and minds [thoughts] through [in] Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 7
When we declare our requests with thanksgiving, the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep our hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus. Isn't this a wonderful verse? There are two points made in this verse: one is salvation and the other is fellowship. "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall [absolutely] keep your hearts .... " The seat of your spiritual life remains in God's keeping because it is seed; this is eternal life. Therefore, because this is true, we keep our thoughts in Christ Jesus and we are of one mind walking according to the Word of God. Paul says, "Then you are my joy; my crown."
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. Philippians 4: 8
Think! What we mentally dwell on we are going to manifest. We never rise beyond what we think. The Word of God says that our thoughts are to be in Christ Jesus. If our thoughts are in Christ Jesus, then we think that which is true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report. It is just as easy to think good as it is to think evil except that the influence of our society is so negative that we must purposefully work !o keep our thoughts positive. We must willfully determine whether we are going to think as the Word says or think as the world does.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, [you] do: and [if you do] the God of peace shall be with you. Philippians 4: 9
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care [thinking] of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful [mindful], but ye lacked opportunity. Philippians 4: 10
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Philippians 4: 11
Paul said he was not complaining about his needs for he had learned that in whatever state he was, to be self-adequate, not "content" as the KJV says. The text literally reads: "I learned in whatsoever state I am, I am self-adequate." "Christ in you" makes you self-adequate. Are you lacking anything according to the Word of God? The Word says, "Ye are complete in Him." * If we are complete, we are complete; we cannot lack anything. Therefore, in every situation we are more than conquerors, we are self-sufficient because we are complete in Him.
* And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power. -- Colossians 2: 10
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. Philippians 4: 12
When Paul had little he was still self-adequate. I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."
The meaning of "instructed" in the text is "to be initiated into the secret," the secret being how to be self-sufficient or self-adequate whether we lack or whether we have abundance - "feast or famine." Paul had been "initiated into the secret" of how to live.
Because some have never been initiated into the secret, they stay in poverty. If they ever had an abundance, they wouldn't know what to do with it. We might paraphrase Paul's statement thus: "I have been initiated into the secret. When it comes to having physical or material needs, I move on; when I abound in material and physical possessions, I move on also. In every situation, I am self-adequate." -
I can do all things through Christ which [who] strengtheneth me. Philippians 4: 13
Paul was talking about how to live with an abundance, and how to live on a shoestring; in either situation we are self-adequate. Why are we self-adequate? Because we have strength through Christ who strengthens us.
Many people use this Scripture in regard to giving up chewing tobacco, smoking and other non-beneficial habits. This verse does not relate at all to such things. It deals specifically with having or not having a sufficiency in material matters.
Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Philippians 4: 14
In other words, "Ye have well done, having had fellowship with my affliction." Most people believe that "affliction" means "sickness." The word "affliction" is explained in the last word of verse 16, "necessity." Paul said, "Ye have well done, having had fellowship with my necessity." This verse is most easily understood if we ourselves have been in the same situation. If we have always had an abundance of material things, and never suffered need, we have not experienced "the fellowship of necessities." Paul was saying that the believers in Philippi understood because they themselves had at one time suffered lack and at another time known abundance.
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. -- Philippians 4: 15
For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again [twice] unto my necessity. -- Philippians 4: 16
Not because I desire [seek] a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. -- Philippians 4: 17
Paul was not seeking a gift from the Philippians because he did not ask them for material things; but Paul desired that fruit might abound to their account. Every time these people communicated with the necessity of the Apostle Paul, each time they gave to his material needs, God set the good works to their account.
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. -- Philippians 4: 18
All they did was to communicate with the necessity of the Apostle Paul, and Paul taught that this was well pleasing and acceptable to God, and was set to their account. Their generous actions had nothing to do with their salvation; good works were simply credits to their walk and reward.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 19
In context you will understand this verse. "God shall supply all your need" literally refers to material things, not to spiritual things. The Philippians had given of their material things to the Apostle Paul, they ministered to his necessity. Paul is saying, "Now that you have communicated toward me, God will now supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Again we see the law at work: giving equals receiving. This law works with reliability. God shall supply your material needs "according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." By His foreknowledge He knows our need before we ask.
Now unto God and our Father be glory [our knowledge of Him] for ever and ever. Amen. -- Philippians 4: 20
Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. -- Philippians 4: 21
This verse admonishes us to greet every believer in Christ Jesus. The Word never says
a believer is in Jesus. That would not be
accurate because the name Jesus is always associated with his humility. Whenever people wanted to humiliate Him, they called Him
"Jesus." Even the devil
spirits never called Him "Christ" in The Word; they always said
"Jesus." The name
"Christ" means "anointed" or "anointing." In John 1: 41 is the same word, "Messias,
which is, being interpreted, the Christ [the promised, anointed
one] ." According to Acts 2: 36, "God hath made that same Jesus [the humiliated one] ... both Lord and Christ." According to Acts 10: 38, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost." This anointing made Jesus the Christ, the promised anointed one (Messiah) to Israel. We are in Christ Jesus and not in Jesus.
All the saints salute you, chiefly [especially] they that are of Caesar's household. -- Philippians 4: 22
It is interesting to note the Word of God at least touched the high government circles in the early days. Here we are told that the gospel had reached into Caesar's household.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. -- Philippians 4: 23
Every Christian is to "stand fast in the Lord" in their day-by-day walk, for as we walk we have the joy and peace found in the "one mind," and we have the physical and material blessings needed for the more abundant life now. We do have "all sufficiency for all things," and as sons of God we are in every situation self-adequate. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with each of us. Amen.