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EXPRESSION OF THANKS FOR THE PHILIPPIANS’ SUPPORT (4:10–20)
In fact, in this section, no word of thank is mentioned yet it has a full display of gratitude and
praises given to Philippians.
The reason Paul gives thanks for the Philippians’ abundant giving in the present as well as in the
past is not because he lacks contentment but because he wants them to enjoy the blessing of giving and to
experience the faithfulness of God.
Paul thanked the Philippians for remembering him and his needs, as they had before. Because of
their pattern of giving, they were a double blessing. Typical of Paul, however, he used this occasion to
teach the church spiritual truths like gratitude, contentmentand giving.
1. Paul’s Situation (4:10–14)
10
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed,
you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11
I am not saying this because I
am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.12
I know what it is to be in
need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and
every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13
I can do
everything through him who gives me strength.
14
Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.
(1) Appreciation (4:10)
4:10 Apparently some time elapsed between gifts from the Philippian church. It may have been
years between the gifts mentioned in 2 Cor 8 and the one delivered by Epaphroditus. Perhaps Paul had
despaired of their love for him since so much time elapsed and since they were the ones who remembered
him financially and a financial gift uniquely expressed love. Their gift was a cause of joy in the Lord.
Perhaps they expected Paul to be joyful because of the gift but, as the context clearly reveals, his
joy was in the Lord.Spiritual relationships brought the most satisfaction: their love for him because
of Christ’s love and his love for the Lord. Thus it was natural for a material gift to become an occasion
for Christian joy. The Christian nature of this relationship is supported by the word Paul used for
―concern.‖ Paul used it consistently to point out proper Christian attitudes in following the mind of Christ.
He must have consciously alluded to that in his choice of the word.
Paul was a tentmaker at time to support himself. Paul states that he and his companions "worked night
and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you" (2 Thessalonians 3:8). Paul's
purpose in working was to set an example for the Christians, desiring that they not become idle in their expectation
of the return of Christ, but that they would work to support themselves. He also hoped that his refusal to accept
financial support would build his credibility among non-Christians, thus giving him the chance to win over more of
them (See 1 Corinthians 9, particularly verse 12). For additional glimpses into the Apostle Paul's tentmaking
ministry see Acts 18:1-3; 20:33-35; Philippians 4:14-16.
Paul may have moved between mild rebuke and sympathetic understanding in this section. On one
hand, lest some misunderstand him as being too critical, he explained that they had no occasion to give.
On the other hand, the phrase translated ―indeed you have been concerned‖ is introduced by a causal
construction (eph ho kai). That makes the meaning ―you have renewed your concern for me because
you have been concerned.‖ Rather than a rebuke, this makes Paul’s situation the reason they could not
respond and implies that they wanted to respond all along. It makes good sense of the passage.
Paul’s statement did not reflect his own need. He had learned to be at home with whatever God
supplied to him. He stated three reasons he fared well even without their gift.
2
(2) Contentment (4:11)
4:11The first reason Paul did not need the gift was his own contentment. Twice in these verses
(v11 & 12) he stated that he had learned contentment. One word, emathon, was natural to use. It speaks
to having arrived at a fact of understanding. The other word, memyēmai, often appears in the mystery
religions. It means to learn the secret and conveys the idea of a secret knowledge to which adherents of
the mystery religions aspired. The word conveyed what Paul desired. Contentment is learned through
experience. [It is a commandment to be content in our life- Heb13v5] Paul used another rare word for
―to be content.‖ The etymology means ―self-reliant,‖ and the context supports that meaning. It is a self-
sufficiency because of Christ, however, as Paul clearly stated in 4:13. He meant that he came to grips
with his circumstances and fared well in and through them because of his own relationship to Christ. He
did not need help.
The Secret of Contentment
A. Phil 1:21
For to me,to live is Christ and to die is gain.(NASB)
Paul’s leading example is Christ in his life. Christ is all he possessed and Christ was the foundation and
objective of his faith. Despite his imprisonment, he suffered loneliness, poverty, depravation, he was in
joyous mood and contented.
B. Phil2:5
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
When Paul had this mind of Christ in him, he learned to be abased as a servant of Christ. That
means he yielded his will and followed Christ absolutely according to God’s Will
.
C. Phil4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
To rejoice in the Lord is a living testimony and encouragement to the believers at Philippi. We can
only rejoice when one’s heart is occupied with only the Lord’ presence. The worldly things and
seeking of materials will be completely oblivious to Paul as his heart and mind is at rest, full of
peace and joy.
Joy derived from contentment
(3) Adaptability (4:12)
4:12 Circumstances were the arena of spiritual growth, and through them Paul developed
adaptability. In this verse Paul presented three contrasts that provided the occasion for learning and
explained the nature of contentment. The first and last speak to physical needs in general, while the
middle refers to food. In these varied experiences, Paul displayed spiritual equilibrium. He was equally
unaffected by poverty and riches. This knowledge is learned by walking withChrist, who is the
sufficient one, and by developing a solid theology of material things. Things ultimately do not
matter. Relationships matter.Contentment with each other will help you overcome
hurts and nurture love.Paul’s attitude contrasted with the false teachers’. They were preoccupied
with food and other earthly matters; Paul could rise above any set of circumstances.
3
(4) Dependency (4:13)
4:13 Paul depended on Christ for strength. The expression ―through him who gives me strength‖
clearly refers to the indwelling Christ, and Paul could accomplish all that God wanted through the
strength he provided.Some people abuse this verse by taking it out of context. They assume Paul was
making a comprehensive statement about the spiritual abilities of a Christian. Some even act as if there
were nothing they could not do. Paul did not mean that. Two factors in the text reveal why. First, the
passage discussed material and physical needs. In the day to day economic fluctuations, Paul knew a
stability that enabled him to rise above them. The rule of context means that this must be applied to
economic matters. Second, Paul expressed his dependence on the power of the Lord. In this, he knew that
where the Lord led him, he had power. The will of God limited the application of the strength he knew.
Many who misapply this verse step out of God’s will for their lives. They hope to cover their actions by a
blanket promise of power, but power comes in the will of God. Thus, Paul expressed a crucial paradox.
He was strong when he was weak! He was independent (self-sufficient) only when he was
dependent!Although Paul realized the necessity of living in a Christian community, he also knew
what it meant to face life’s problems alone and still triumph through them.
It may be more difficult to triumph in the good times than in the bad. A Christian’s victory comes
from a conscious dependence on the Lord and his power, and that is easier understood when times get
hard! One mark of maturity in Christ is that the mature know how to depend on the Lord in every
situation of life, not only in those for which they assume they need help. Paul modeled this lesson for
them and thus even in his thankfulness taught the truths of Christian living.
(5) Blessing (4:14)
4:14 As a summary of this section, Paul reminded the readers that their share in his work was good.
The NIV translates this accurately but perhaps too casually: ―You share in my troubles.‖ Two important
terms indicate the significance of their contribution to Paul. First, they participated with him. The Greek
sygkoinoneō emphasizes that participation. The basic translation, ―fellowship,‖ means a deep partnership
of two going the same direction. This is heightened by the preposition ―with‖ (syn), which has a
perfective force here. Second, Paul identified their partnership specifically as with his ―troubles‖
(thlipsis). The term naturally implies hardships of any kind, but it had a deeper significance for Paul. In
Col 1:24 he spoke of suffering the ―tribulations of the Christ‖ (the same Greek word) so that his
difficulties in spreading the gospel actually related to the Messiah. In reflecting on his tribulations,
Paul realized the eschatological significance of his ministry and that those who supported him
participated in that themselves. Their gifts evidenced their willingness to identify with the new era
inaugurated by Jesus.
This expression contains the first hint of the significance of Christian giving. It also explains
something of Paul’s hesitancy in expressing his own needs to them. The Philippians recognized Paul’s
strategic place in the spread of the gospel, the mystery revealed to him (Eph 3:1–13). Others, particularly
the Jewish Christians, had difficulty accepting Paul’s ministry. The gifts from Philippi meant that the
church eagerly participated in the work of God and that their gifts were, in reality, contributions to the
spread of the gospel to other Gentiles. Paul knew he would suffer because of his distinctive apostolic
calling. He accepted this suffering joyfully and learned the secret of triumph over any circumstance.
Paul’s ministry simply provided an occasion for sharing in the gospel. He knew that he handled
sacred resources when they came from the people of God (see 4:18). Their gift was good because it
demonstrated that they understood God’s working in the world and that they willingly supported it
through God’s servants.
4
2. Paul’s Attitude Toward Those Who Gave (4:15–20)
Paul’s thankfulness turned to commendation and promise of reward. Both the nature of their giving
and its motivation pleased the Lord.
(1) Commendation (4:15–17)
15
Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel,
when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and
receiving, except(but) you only; 16
for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and
again when I was in need. 17
Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be
credited to your account.
4:15Paul commended the church for the way it supported him. Its support was unique. It was
the only Macedonian church to support him. Paul disclosed one of the reasons he remembered the
Philippians fondly ―from the first day until now‖ (1:5). When they first heard the gospel, they saw its
implications for others and shared in its propagation. Since Paul committed his life to the progress of the
gospel (1:12) and measured his success by the proclamation of the gospel (1:18), their giving promoted
a natural friendship. The early days in Macedonia had been difficult. Paul suffered physically in
Philippi. In Thessalonica his work caused an uproar (1 Thess 2:9), which resulted in his departing the city
(Acts 17:5–9). These difficulties were only external. Perhaps the greatest difficulty was that the other
churches failed to help him. In this, Philippi was different! From the very first it supported his work,
evidencing the genuineness of salvation and love for Paul.
The other churches failed in their obligations to the gospel. Paul called the Philippian support a
matter ―of giving and receiving‖ (4:15). When he stated that other churches did not support him, he used
the common word for ―fellowship‖ (koinōneō) which so characterizes this book. Subtly and without
complaining, Paul pointed out that others had received but not given. They had a one-way relationship in
the gospel. Paul expected rejection and loneliness in his work; it came as no surprise. He was, however,
troubled for two reasons. First, when they received they had a responsibility to share. Second, they
missed the spiritual blessings that came from giving. The Philippians understood both principles and
acted on them. That brought joy to Paul’s heart (…but you only.).
4:16Paul also commended them because their support was immediate and consistent. He
remembered that they supported him in Thessalonica, the city he had entered after being asked to
leave Philippi. Beyond that, they continued to support him. His statement in 4:10, however, reveals that
at some time their support ceased. Perhaps the deeper meaning of their giving enhanced Paul’s joy
when they gave again.
4:17Paul commended them because their gifts were an investment. Financial terms dominate
this passage. The gifts were an investment in the work of God and in their future. Some believers
may have mistakenly assumed that Paul sought gifts, but he clearly stated he sought the blessings it
would bring to the givers. Paul saw beyond the physical act to the spiritual transactions taking place.
Even in acknowledging their support, his servant attitude surfaced. He thought of their growth and
blessings.
(2) Blessings (4:18–19)
5
18
I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received
from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing
to God. 19
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Paul’s commendation led him to speak of how the Philippians benefited from supporting him. He
understood well that genuine giving seeks no personal benefits. He lived that way, and so did
they.Nevertheless, giving brings blessings to both giver and receiver. First, Paul stated what he received
from their gifts. Further, using financial language, Paul stated that his need was met. He had sufficient
resources to carry on God’s work. Any obligation they had to him had been paid in full. Their
responsibility was satisfied. The gift brought by Epaphroditus exceeded what Paul might have expected,
and they were to feel no obligation to give more.
Paul also listed two benefits to the givers.
4:18First, God was pleased. In terms reminiscent of Rom 12:1–2, Paul pointed out that their gift was an
acceptable Christian sacrifice. Like Rom 12, this passage teaches that physical activity can become
spiritual in motivation and importance. Romans states that dedicating the body to God is a spiritual act.
Here, Paul revealed that giving was a spiritual exercise. Since Paul used the language of the Old
Testament sacrificial system, perhaps even his terms subtly countered the Jewish false teachers.
Paul had developed a comprehensive theology of stewardship. Its most thorough statement occurs
in 2 Cor 8–9, where he solicited support for a famine relief offering. He stated that the Macedonians led
the way in giving, and most likely the primary church to give was Philippi (2 Cor 8:1–5). Their giving
was exemplary because they gave out of ―rock-bottom poverty.‖Their contribution was a ―fragrant
offering‖ to God because of its sacrifice, its Christian motivation, and its significance to the spread
of the gospel.
4:19The second benefit to the believers was that they would experience God’s provision. Just
as God had met Paul’s needs in the work of the gospel, so God would meet their needs. The context of
this promise deserves careful attention. Paul spoke to those who actively supported the work of the Lord.
His statement of 4:15 indicates what he meant: God meets the needs of those who give to him. In the
context of ministering being ministered to occurs.
God’s supply is ―according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.‖ Often commentators point out
that the statement says ―according to‖ and not ―out of.‖ ―According to‖ means that the supply is suited to
the resource and like it in kind and extent. God, therefore, bountifully blesses those who give with
glorious provision in accord with his glory and for his purposes. Since the glory is associated with
Christ—it is ―in Christ‖—Paul probably spoke of one of the benefits brought to those who are in Christ.
―Glorious riches‖ are available to those who give as the Philippians did.
(3) Doxology (4:20)
20
To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
4:20 The section closes with a doxology to God the Father. The thought of the glorious nature of
what the Lord supplies no doubt prompted Paul to think of the ultimate purpose of life: to bring
glory to God forever.The doxology expresses a prayer concerning all the affairs discussed in the
epistle. Through whatever means, in every age, and through all creatures, may God be glorified.
Once again, Paul’s thoughts moved beyond the present to the future, or, as in other places in the epistle,
he consciously remembered the ultimate purpose of life. It is to bring glory to God now and forever. In so
doing, the believer will join a great host of creation glorifying God for eternity.
6
CONCLUSION (4:21–23)
21
Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. 22
All the
saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
23
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
4:21–22 The conclusion of Philippians is typical of other epistles, including exhortations to greet
the brothers and greetings from Christians in the place of writing. These concluding remarks are
abbreviated, but significant. Paul sent greetings from three groups of persons with him. First, greetings
were sent from the brethren who surrounded him, his team of men who supported him and served with
him. [It's very likely that Tychicus and Aristarchus were there, well known and noble Christians. There are
many who would tell us that Luke was there and Mark was there.]No doubt they knew the church well.
Second, greetings were sent from other saints with whom Paul had contact. The term ―all the saints‖ must
mean those in the church at Rome, who were not specifically a part of Paul’s band of men. Such
greetings were commonly exchanged as a mark of Christian friendship and brotherhood. Finally,
greetings came from Christians in Caesar’s household. The unusual manner of identifying them as a
―household‖ suggests that they were not family members. Most assume that they were in Caesar’s civil
service. Perhaps because of Philippi’s importance as a colony and financial center, some of them had
regular business contacts with the Christians at Philippi. The interchange of greetings was an important
way of maintaining contacts with the Christians around the empire.
There is one word that is repeated twice in these two verses to which I would like to draw your attention.
That is the word "saint." It appears in verse 21. It appears again in verse 22. It is a familiar word to us but
admittedly somewhat understood wrongly or improperly by most people. Roman Catholic theology teaches is that
they have special work of interceding with God for the souls of people which are captive to the pain of purgatory.
And so as you pray to the saint, in a sense you are pleading with that saint to appeal to God to release the one that
you love from the pain of purgatory. In fact, you will frequently see in a Roman Catholic Church candles at the
feet of the saints, which candles are lighted and as long as the candle is still burning, the prayer is perpetual to the
saint to plead with the saint, to plead with God to get that soul out of purgatory. The word hagiosor hagioi(?) in
plural, simply means "set apart ones, separated ones, sanctified ones or perhaps best, holy ones." That's just a list of
synonyms for the word "saint." The concept is "being set apart, being separated." Now we know that the Bible says
that God is holy. The word can be translated holy, is often translated holy in Scripture, it means the same thing. We
know that God is holy, or God is saintly or God is separated. Anyone who is separated from sin unto God is a saint.
4:23 Paul’s final words implored the grace of God. He ended like he began—with a prayer for
grace. Possibly he had a collective church spirit in mind, but most likely he referred to the spirits of
individuals. Read, with the best manuscripts, with your spirit.The spirit stands for the entire person,
spiritually sensitive through this aspect of human beings. God communicated with their spirits, and
through them he brought the riches of his grace wherever it was needed. In an epistle which presents
clearly the polarities between law and grace, works and faith, and self-righteousness and divinely
imputed righteousness, it is significant that the final line should be grace. Fittingly he reminded
them that everything good they had came because of God’s grace.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are, what you have—no more, no less.
That’s the momentyou find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

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Christian Contentment Alex Loh

  • 1. 1 EXPRESSION OF THANKS FOR THE PHILIPPIANS’ SUPPORT (4:10–20) In fact, in this section, no word of thank is mentioned yet it has a full display of gratitude and praises given to Philippians. The reason Paul gives thanks for the Philippians’ abundant giving in the present as well as in the past is not because he lacks contentment but because he wants them to enjoy the blessing of giving and to experience the faithfulness of God. Paul thanked the Philippians for remembering him and his needs, as they had before. Because of their pattern of giving, they were a double blessing. Typical of Paul, however, he used this occasion to teach the church spiritual truths like gratitude, contentmentand giving. 1. Paul’s Situation (4:10–14) 10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. (1) Appreciation (4:10) 4:10 Apparently some time elapsed between gifts from the Philippian church. It may have been years between the gifts mentioned in 2 Cor 8 and the one delivered by Epaphroditus. Perhaps Paul had despaired of their love for him since so much time elapsed and since they were the ones who remembered him financially and a financial gift uniquely expressed love. Their gift was a cause of joy in the Lord. Perhaps they expected Paul to be joyful because of the gift but, as the context clearly reveals, his joy was in the Lord.Spiritual relationships brought the most satisfaction: their love for him because of Christ’s love and his love for the Lord. Thus it was natural for a material gift to become an occasion for Christian joy. The Christian nature of this relationship is supported by the word Paul used for ―concern.‖ Paul used it consistently to point out proper Christian attitudes in following the mind of Christ. He must have consciously alluded to that in his choice of the word. Paul was a tentmaker at time to support himself. Paul states that he and his companions "worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you" (2 Thessalonians 3:8). Paul's purpose in working was to set an example for the Christians, desiring that they not become idle in their expectation of the return of Christ, but that they would work to support themselves. He also hoped that his refusal to accept financial support would build his credibility among non-Christians, thus giving him the chance to win over more of them (See 1 Corinthians 9, particularly verse 12). For additional glimpses into the Apostle Paul's tentmaking ministry see Acts 18:1-3; 20:33-35; Philippians 4:14-16. Paul may have moved between mild rebuke and sympathetic understanding in this section. On one hand, lest some misunderstand him as being too critical, he explained that they had no occasion to give. On the other hand, the phrase translated ―indeed you have been concerned‖ is introduced by a causal construction (eph ho kai). That makes the meaning ―you have renewed your concern for me because you have been concerned.‖ Rather than a rebuke, this makes Paul’s situation the reason they could not respond and implies that they wanted to respond all along. It makes good sense of the passage. Paul’s statement did not reflect his own need. He had learned to be at home with whatever God supplied to him. He stated three reasons he fared well even without their gift.
  • 2. 2 (2) Contentment (4:11) 4:11The first reason Paul did not need the gift was his own contentment. Twice in these verses (v11 & 12) he stated that he had learned contentment. One word, emathon, was natural to use. It speaks to having arrived at a fact of understanding. The other word, memyēmai, often appears in the mystery religions. It means to learn the secret and conveys the idea of a secret knowledge to which adherents of the mystery religions aspired. The word conveyed what Paul desired. Contentment is learned through experience. [It is a commandment to be content in our life- Heb13v5] Paul used another rare word for ―to be content.‖ The etymology means ―self-reliant,‖ and the context supports that meaning. It is a self- sufficiency because of Christ, however, as Paul clearly stated in 4:13. He meant that he came to grips with his circumstances and fared well in and through them because of his own relationship to Christ. He did not need help. The Secret of Contentment A. Phil 1:21 For to me,to live is Christ and to die is gain.(NASB) Paul’s leading example is Christ in his life. Christ is all he possessed and Christ was the foundation and objective of his faith. Despite his imprisonment, he suffered loneliness, poverty, depravation, he was in joyous mood and contented. B. Phil2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, When Paul had this mind of Christ in him, he learned to be abased as a servant of Christ. That means he yielded his will and followed Christ absolutely according to God’s Will . C. Phil4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! To rejoice in the Lord is a living testimony and encouragement to the believers at Philippi. We can only rejoice when one’s heart is occupied with only the Lord’ presence. The worldly things and seeking of materials will be completely oblivious to Paul as his heart and mind is at rest, full of peace and joy. Joy derived from contentment (3) Adaptability (4:12) 4:12 Circumstances were the arena of spiritual growth, and through them Paul developed adaptability. In this verse Paul presented three contrasts that provided the occasion for learning and explained the nature of contentment. The first and last speak to physical needs in general, while the middle refers to food. In these varied experiences, Paul displayed spiritual equilibrium. He was equally unaffected by poverty and riches. This knowledge is learned by walking withChrist, who is the sufficient one, and by developing a solid theology of material things. Things ultimately do not matter. Relationships matter.Contentment with each other will help you overcome hurts and nurture love.Paul’s attitude contrasted with the false teachers’. They were preoccupied with food and other earthly matters; Paul could rise above any set of circumstances.
  • 3. 3 (4) Dependency (4:13) 4:13 Paul depended on Christ for strength. The expression ―through him who gives me strength‖ clearly refers to the indwelling Christ, and Paul could accomplish all that God wanted through the strength he provided.Some people abuse this verse by taking it out of context. They assume Paul was making a comprehensive statement about the spiritual abilities of a Christian. Some even act as if there were nothing they could not do. Paul did not mean that. Two factors in the text reveal why. First, the passage discussed material and physical needs. In the day to day economic fluctuations, Paul knew a stability that enabled him to rise above them. The rule of context means that this must be applied to economic matters. Second, Paul expressed his dependence on the power of the Lord. In this, he knew that where the Lord led him, he had power. The will of God limited the application of the strength he knew. Many who misapply this verse step out of God’s will for their lives. They hope to cover their actions by a blanket promise of power, but power comes in the will of God. Thus, Paul expressed a crucial paradox. He was strong when he was weak! He was independent (self-sufficient) only when he was dependent!Although Paul realized the necessity of living in a Christian community, he also knew what it meant to face life’s problems alone and still triumph through them. It may be more difficult to triumph in the good times than in the bad. A Christian’s victory comes from a conscious dependence on the Lord and his power, and that is easier understood when times get hard! One mark of maturity in Christ is that the mature know how to depend on the Lord in every situation of life, not only in those for which they assume they need help. Paul modeled this lesson for them and thus even in his thankfulness taught the truths of Christian living. (5) Blessing (4:14) 4:14 As a summary of this section, Paul reminded the readers that their share in his work was good. The NIV translates this accurately but perhaps too casually: ―You share in my troubles.‖ Two important terms indicate the significance of their contribution to Paul. First, they participated with him. The Greek sygkoinoneō emphasizes that participation. The basic translation, ―fellowship,‖ means a deep partnership of two going the same direction. This is heightened by the preposition ―with‖ (syn), which has a perfective force here. Second, Paul identified their partnership specifically as with his ―troubles‖ (thlipsis). The term naturally implies hardships of any kind, but it had a deeper significance for Paul. In Col 1:24 he spoke of suffering the ―tribulations of the Christ‖ (the same Greek word) so that his difficulties in spreading the gospel actually related to the Messiah. In reflecting on his tribulations, Paul realized the eschatological significance of his ministry and that those who supported him participated in that themselves. Their gifts evidenced their willingness to identify with the new era inaugurated by Jesus. This expression contains the first hint of the significance of Christian giving. It also explains something of Paul’s hesitancy in expressing his own needs to them. The Philippians recognized Paul’s strategic place in the spread of the gospel, the mystery revealed to him (Eph 3:1–13). Others, particularly the Jewish Christians, had difficulty accepting Paul’s ministry. The gifts from Philippi meant that the church eagerly participated in the work of God and that their gifts were, in reality, contributions to the spread of the gospel to other Gentiles. Paul knew he would suffer because of his distinctive apostolic calling. He accepted this suffering joyfully and learned the secret of triumph over any circumstance. Paul’s ministry simply provided an occasion for sharing in the gospel. He knew that he handled sacred resources when they came from the people of God (see 4:18). Their gift was good because it demonstrated that they understood God’s working in the world and that they willingly supported it through God’s servants.
  • 4. 4 2. Paul’s Attitude Toward Those Who Gave (4:15–20) Paul’s thankfulness turned to commendation and promise of reward. Both the nature of their giving and its motivation pleased the Lord. (1) Commendation (4:15–17) 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except(but) you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 4:15Paul commended the church for the way it supported him. Its support was unique. It was the only Macedonian church to support him. Paul disclosed one of the reasons he remembered the Philippians fondly ―from the first day until now‖ (1:5). When they first heard the gospel, they saw its implications for others and shared in its propagation. Since Paul committed his life to the progress of the gospel (1:12) and measured his success by the proclamation of the gospel (1:18), their giving promoted a natural friendship. The early days in Macedonia had been difficult. Paul suffered physically in Philippi. In Thessalonica his work caused an uproar (1 Thess 2:9), which resulted in his departing the city (Acts 17:5–9). These difficulties were only external. Perhaps the greatest difficulty was that the other churches failed to help him. In this, Philippi was different! From the very first it supported his work, evidencing the genuineness of salvation and love for Paul. The other churches failed in their obligations to the gospel. Paul called the Philippian support a matter ―of giving and receiving‖ (4:15). When he stated that other churches did not support him, he used the common word for ―fellowship‖ (koinōneō) which so characterizes this book. Subtly and without complaining, Paul pointed out that others had received but not given. They had a one-way relationship in the gospel. Paul expected rejection and loneliness in his work; it came as no surprise. He was, however, troubled for two reasons. First, when they received they had a responsibility to share. Second, they missed the spiritual blessings that came from giving. The Philippians understood both principles and acted on them. That brought joy to Paul’s heart (…but you only.). 4:16Paul also commended them because their support was immediate and consistent. He remembered that they supported him in Thessalonica, the city he had entered after being asked to leave Philippi. Beyond that, they continued to support him. His statement in 4:10, however, reveals that at some time their support ceased. Perhaps the deeper meaning of their giving enhanced Paul’s joy when they gave again. 4:17Paul commended them because their gifts were an investment. Financial terms dominate this passage. The gifts were an investment in the work of God and in their future. Some believers may have mistakenly assumed that Paul sought gifts, but he clearly stated he sought the blessings it would bring to the givers. Paul saw beyond the physical act to the spiritual transactions taking place. Even in acknowledging their support, his servant attitude surfaced. He thought of their growth and blessings. (2) Blessings (4:18–19)
  • 5. 5 18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Paul’s commendation led him to speak of how the Philippians benefited from supporting him. He understood well that genuine giving seeks no personal benefits. He lived that way, and so did they.Nevertheless, giving brings blessings to both giver and receiver. First, Paul stated what he received from their gifts. Further, using financial language, Paul stated that his need was met. He had sufficient resources to carry on God’s work. Any obligation they had to him had been paid in full. Their responsibility was satisfied. The gift brought by Epaphroditus exceeded what Paul might have expected, and they were to feel no obligation to give more. Paul also listed two benefits to the givers. 4:18First, God was pleased. In terms reminiscent of Rom 12:1–2, Paul pointed out that their gift was an acceptable Christian sacrifice. Like Rom 12, this passage teaches that physical activity can become spiritual in motivation and importance. Romans states that dedicating the body to God is a spiritual act. Here, Paul revealed that giving was a spiritual exercise. Since Paul used the language of the Old Testament sacrificial system, perhaps even his terms subtly countered the Jewish false teachers. Paul had developed a comprehensive theology of stewardship. Its most thorough statement occurs in 2 Cor 8–9, where he solicited support for a famine relief offering. He stated that the Macedonians led the way in giving, and most likely the primary church to give was Philippi (2 Cor 8:1–5). Their giving was exemplary because they gave out of ―rock-bottom poverty.‖Their contribution was a ―fragrant offering‖ to God because of its sacrifice, its Christian motivation, and its significance to the spread of the gospel. 4:19The second benefit to the believers was that they would experience God’s provision. Just as God had met Paul’s needs in the work of the gospel, so God would meet their needs. The context of this promise deserves careful attention. Paul spoke to those who actively supported the work of the Lord. His statement of 4:15 indicates what he meant: God meets the needs of those who give to him. In the context of ministering being ministered to occurs. God’s supply is ―according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.‖ Often commentators point out that the statement says ―according to‖ and not ―out of.‖ ―According to‖ means that the supply is suited to the resource and like it in kind and extent. God, therefore, bountifully blesses those who give with glorious provision in accord with his glory and for his purposes. Since the glory is associated with Christ—it is ―in Christ‖—Paul probably spoke of one of the benefits brought to those who are in Christ. ―Glorious riches‖ are available to those who give as the Philippians did. (3) Doxology (4:20) 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 4:20 The section closes with a doxology to God the Father. The thought of the glorious nature of what the Lord supplies no doubt prompted Paul to think of the ultimate purpose of life: to bring glory to God forever.The doxology expresses a prayer concerning all the affairs discussed in the epistle. Through whatever means, in every age, and through all creatures, may God be glorified. Once again, Paul’s thoughts moved beyond the present to the future, or, as in other places in the epistle, he consciously remembered the ultimate purpose of life. It is to bring glory to God now and forever. In so doing, the believer will join a great host of creation glorifying God for eternity.
  • 6. 6 CONCLUSION (4:21–23) 21 Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. 22 All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. 4:21–22 The conclusion of Philippians is typical of other epistles, including exhortations to greet the brothers and greetings from Christians in the place of writing. These concluding remarks are abbreviated, but significant. Paul sent greetings from three groups of persons with him. First, greetings were sent from the brethren who surrounded him, his team of men who supported him and served with him. [It's very likely that Tychicus and Aristarchus were there, well known and noble Christians. There are many who would tell us that Luke was there and Mark was there.]No doubt they knew the church well. Second, greetings were sent from other saints with whom Paul had contact. The term ―all the saints‖ must mean those in the church at Rome, who were not specifically a part of Paul’s band of men. Such greetings were commonly exchanged as a mark of Christian friendship and brotherhood. Finally, greetings came from Christians in Caesar’s household. The unusual manner of identifying them as a ―household‖ suggests that they were not family members. Most assume that they were in Caesar’s civil service. Perhaps because of Philippi’s importance as a colony and financial center, some of them had regular business contacts with the Christians at Philippi. The interchange of greetings was an important way of maintaining contacts with the Christians around the empire. There is one word that is repeated twice in these two verses to which I would like to draw your attention. That is the word "saint." It appears in verse 21. It appears again in verse 22. It is a familiar word to us but admittedly somewhat understood wrongly or improperly by most people. Roman Catholic theology teaches is that they have special work of interceding with God for the souls of people which are captive to the pain of purgatory. And so as you pray to the saint, in a sense you are pleading with that saint to appeal to God to release the one that you love from the pain of purgatory. In fact, you will frequently see in a Roman Catholic Church candles at the feet of the saints, which candles are lighted and as long as the candle is still burning, the prayer is perpetual to the saint to plead with the saint, to plead with God to get that soul out of purgatory. The word hagiosor hagioi(?) in plural, simply means "set apart ones, separated ones, sanctified ones or perhaps best, holy ones." That's just a list of synonyms for the word "saint." The concept is "being set apart, being separated." Now we know that the Bible says that God is holy. The word can be translated holy, is often translated holy in Scripture, it means the same thing. We know that God is holy, or God is saintly or God is separated. Anyone who is separated from sin unto God is a saint. 4:23 Paul’s final words implored the grace of God. He ended like he began—with a prayer for grace. Possibly he had a collective church spirit in mind, but most likely he referred to the spirits of individuals. Read, with the best manuscripts, with your spirit.The spirit stands for the entire person, spiritually sensitive through this aspect of human beings. God communicated with their spirits, and through them he brought the riches of his grace wherever it was needed. In an epistle which presents clearly the polarities between law and grace, works and faith, and self-righteousness and divinely imputed righteousness, it is significant that the final line should be grace. Fittingly he reminded them that everything good they had came because of God’s grace. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are, what you have—no more, no less. That’s the momentyou find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.