Philippians 4
Vincent's Word Studies
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
Longed for (ἐπιπόθητοι)

Only here in the New Testament. Compare I long for you, Philippians 1:8; and for kindred words see 2 Corinthians 7:7; Romans 15:23.

Joy and crown (χαρὰ καὶ στέφανος)

Nearly the same phrase occurs 1 Thessalonians 2:19. The Philippian converts are his chaplet of victory, showing that he has not run in vain, Philippians 2:16. For crown, see on Revelation 4:4; see on 1 Peter 5:4.

So stand fast

As I have exhorted, and have borne myself in the conflict which you saw and heard to be in me, Philippians 1:30.

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
I beseech Euodias and beseech Syntyche (Εὐωδίαν παρακαλῶ καὶ Συντύχην παρακαλῶ)

Euodias is incorrect, the name being feminine, Euodia. According to the Tex. Rec., with the long o, the name means fragrance; but the correct reading is with the short o, the meaning being prosperous journey. Syntyche means happy chance. These were prominent women in the Church, possibly deaconesses. The position of women in Macedonia was exceptional. In Greece, generally, their standing was inferior. The Athenian law prescribed that everything that a man might do by the consent or request of a woman should be null in law. In Macedonia monuments were erected to women by public bodies, and in Macedonian inscriptions records of male proper names are found formed on the mother's name instead of the father's. Macedonian women were permitted to hold property. In the account of Paul's labors in Macedonia there are notices of the addition of women of rank to the church in Thessalonica and Beroea.

For beseech, render exhort, and notice the repetition of that word with each name, making the exhortation individual and specific.

To be of the same mind (τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν)

The same expression as in Philippians 2:2, see note. Compare Romans 12:16. The verb φρονέω to be minded, occurs eleven times in this epistle, and but seventeen times in the rest of the New Testament.

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.
True yoke-fellow (γνήσιε σύνζυγε)

For true, see on naturally, Philippians 2:20. It is supposed by some that the word rendered yoke-fellow is a proper name, Synzygus, and that true is to be explained as rightly so called. This explanation would be favored by the play upon the name Onesimus in the Epistle to Philemon, and is not improbably correct. The name has not been found in inscriptions, as is the case with many of the names in these epistles, as, for instance, Euodia and Syntyche. Some suppose that the chief of the bishops or superintendents at Philippi is thus addressed; but, in that case, the word would probably appear elsewhere in the New Testament. Clement of Alexandria, assuming that Paul was married, thinks that he addresses his wife. Others suppose that Lydia is addressed.

Help (συλλαμβάνου)

Lit., take hold with. Compare Luke 5:7. The verb is used of conception, Luke 1:24; arrest, Matthew 26:55; Acts 12:3; catching, as fish, Luke 5:9. Compare the compound συναντιλάμβανομαι help, Luke 10:40 (note); Romans 8:26.

Which labored with me (αἵτινες συνήθλησάν μοι)

The double relative explains and classifies: for they belonged to the number of those who labored. Rev., for they labored. Labored, lit., strove as athletes, as Philippians 1:27. Compare Sophocles: "These girls preserve me, these my nurses, these who are men, not women, in laboring with me" ("Oedipus at Colonus," 1367-8).


Supposed by some to be Clement the Bishop of Rome. Origen identifies them, saying: "Clement to whom Paul bears Testimony in Philippians 4:3." So also Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome. Chrysostom speaks of Clement as the constant companion of Paul in all his travels. Irenaeus, on the contrary, who mentions him as the pupil of an apostle, says nothing of his connection with Paul, by name, and would not have been likely to pass over this identity in silence had he been aware of it. Clement was a member of the Roman church, and the name was a very common one. A Roman consul, Flavius Clemens, was sentenced to death by Domitian on account of atheism, which was the common pagan designation of Christianity. The Roman catacombs furnish evidence that Christianity had penetrated into the Flavian family, so that there may have been two prominent Christians in Rome of the same name. The identity of Clement of Rome with the Clement of this epistle has been very generally abandoned. The latter was probably a Philippian.

Other (τῶν λοιπῶν)

Rev., correctly, the rest.

Book of life

The phrase occurs seven times in Revelation. Compare Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23, and see on Revelation 3:5. The figure is founded on the register of the covenant people. Isaiah 4:3; Ezekiel 13:9; Exodus 32:32; Psalm 69:28; Daniel 12:1. The phrase was also used by the Rabbins. Thus in the Targum on Ezekiel 13:9 : "In the book of eternal life which has been written for the just of the house of Israel, they shall not be written." God is described as "the king, sitting upon the judgment-seat, with the books of the living and the books of the dead open before Him."

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

See on Philippians 1:4, and 2 Corinthians 13:11.

Moderation (τὸ ἐπιεικὲς)

Wrong. Rev., correctly, forbearance. See on gentle, 1 Peter 2:18.

The Lord is at hand

See on 1 Corinthians 16:22.

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

See on Matthew 6:25. Rev., better, be anxious.

Prayer and supplication

General and special. See on Luke 5:33; see on Luke 8:38.

Προσευχή prayer, only of prayer to God. The two words often occur together, as Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2:1; 1 Timothy 5:5.

Requests (αἰτήματα)

Specific details of supplication.

Unto God (πρὸς τὸν Θεόν)

The force of πρός is rather in your intercourse with God. See on with God, John 1:1.

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

As the antidote to anxiety, Philippians 4:6.

Which passeth all understanding (ἡ ὑπερέχουσα πάντα νοῦν).

Either, which passes all power of comprehension, compare Ephesians 3:20; or, better, which surpasses every (human) reason, in its power to relieve anxiety. Compare Matthew 6:31, Matthew 6:32. For understanding, see on Romans 7:23.

Shall keep (φρουρήσει)

Lit., guard, as Rev., or mount guard over. God's peace, like a sentinel, patrols before the heart. Compare Tennyson:

"Love is and was my King and Lord,

And will be, though as yet Ikeep

Within his court on earth, and sleep

Encompassed by his faithful guard,

And hear at times a sentinel

Who moves about from place to place,

And whispers to the worlds of space,

In the deep night, that all is well."

"In Memoriam."

Gurnall, a little differently: "The peace of God is said to garrison the believer's heart and mind. He is surrounded with such blessed privileges that he is as safe as one in an impregnable castle" ("Christian in Complete Armor," p. 419).

Hearts - minds (καρδίας - νοήματα)

For hearts, see on Romans 1:21. For minds, Rev., thoughts, see on 2 Corinthians 3:14. The guardianship is over the source and the issues of thought and will. "Your hearts and their fruits" (Alford).

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.
Honest (σεμνὰ)

Rev., honorable, reverend in margin. In classical Greek an epithet of the gods, venerable, reverend. The word occurs only here and in the pastoral epistles, 1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:2, where it is rendered grave, both in A.V. and Rev. There lies in it the idea of a dignity or majesty which is yet inviting and attractive, and which inspires reverence. Grave, as Trench observes, does not exhaust the meaning. Gravity may be ridiculous. "The word we want is one in which the sense of gravity and dignity, and of these as inviting reverence, is combined." Ellicott's venerable is perhaps as near as any word, if venerable be divested of its modern conventional sense as implying age, and confined to its original sense, worthy of reverence.

Pure (ἁγνά)

See on 1 John 3:3.

Lovely (προσφιλῆ)

Only here in the New Testament. Adapted to excite love, and to endear him who does such things.

Of good report (εὔφημα)

Only here in the New Testament. Lit., sounding well. The kindred verb is commonly used in an active sense. Hence not well spoken of, but fairspeaking, and so winning, gracious (Rev., in margin).

Virtue (ἀρετὴ)

With this exception the word occurs only in Peter's epistles; 1 Peter 2:9 (note); 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 1:5 (note).

Praise (ἔπαινος)

Commendation corresponding to the moral value of the virtue. In the Septuagint, ἀρετὴ virtue is four times used to translate the Hebrew praise. The two ideas seem to be coordinated. Lightfoot remarks that Paul seems studiously to avoid this common heathen term for moral excellence, and his explanation is very suggestive: "Whatever value may reside in your old heathen conception of virtue, whatever consideration is due to the praise of men."

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.
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.
Your care of me hath flourished again (ἀνεθάλετε τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ φρονεῖν)

Lit., ye caused your thinking on my behalf to bloom anew. Rev., ye revived your thought for me. The verb occurs only here in the New Testament. In the Septuagint it appears as both transitive and intransitive, to flourish, or to cause to flourish. Thus Psalm 27:7, where Septuagint reads for my heart greatly rejoiceth, my flesh flourished (ἀνέθαλεν); Ezekiel 17:24, have made the dry tree to flourish.


The matter of my wants and sufferings. Implied in your care of me.

Ye were careful (ἐφρονεῖτε)

Rev., ye did take thought. Note the imperfect tense: ye were all along thoughtful.

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

Lit., self-sufficient. Only here in the New Testament. A stoic word, expressing the favorite doctrine of the sect, that man should be sufficient to himself for all things; able, by the power of his own will, to resist the shock of circumstance. Paul is self-sufficient through the power of the new self: not he, but Christ in him. The kindred noun αὐταρκεία sufficiency, occurs 2 Corinthians 9:8; 1 Timothy 6:6.

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.
I am instructed (μεμύημαι)

Rev., have I learned the secret. The metaphor is from the initiatory rites of the pagan mysteries. I have been initiated. See on Colossians 1:26.

To be full (χορτάζεσθαι)

See on Matthew 5:6.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
I can do (ἰσχύω)

See on Luke 14:30.

Strengtheneth (ἐνδυναμοῦντι)

More literally, infuses strength into me, as the old verb inforce.

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

Lest, in declaring his independence of human aid, he should seem to disparage the Philippians' gift.

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.
When I departed from Macedonia

On his first European circuit, going by way of Athens to Corinth, where he was joined by Silvanus and Timothy, bringing a contribution from Macedonia. Acts 18:5; 2 Corinthians 11:9.

For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
Even in Thessalonica (καὶ)

Better also: in addition to the contribution received at Corinth.

Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your 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.
I have (ἀπέχω)

I have received in full. See on Matthew 6:2; see on Luke 6:24.

Odor of a sweet smell

See on 2 Corinthians 2:15, 2 Corinthians 2:16. Frequent in Septuagint, of the odor of sacrifices.

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

This is differently connected by expositors. Some with riches, as A.V. and Rev. Others with shall supply, but with different explanations, as, shall supply your need with glory: in a glorious way: by placing you in glory. It is better to construe with shall supply, and to explain in glory as the element and instrument of the supply. The need shall be supplied in glory and by glory; by placing you in glory where you shall be partakers of glory.

Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.
All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.
Of Caesar's household

Probably the slaves and freedmen attached to the palace.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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