Summary: Philippians 4:1-9 teaches us a number of ways in which we are to stand firm in the Lord.
Paul is getting to the end of his letter to his beloved Philippian church. The ESV Study Bible states: “The chief theme of Philippians is encouragement: Paul wants to encourage the Philippians to live out their lives as citizens of a heavenly colony, as evidenced by a growing commitment to service to God and to one another. The way of life that Paul encourages was manifested uniquely in Jesus Christ; it was also evident in the lives of Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus.”
Let’s read about exhortation, encouragement, and prayer in Philippians 4:1-9:
1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
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.
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.
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. (Philippians 4:1-9)
Paul writes in Philippians 4:1, “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” This “therefore” is the connection between what he has written and what he is about to write. Paul is saying that in light of the themes he has just written about, especially remembering that we are straining toward the goal of our heavenly calling, let us “stand firm thus in the Lord.”
My wife and I have been learning a lot about South America. In the main square in Bogota is a statue of Simon Bolivar, also known as the Liberator. General Bolivar was a Venezuelan military and political leader who led armies that liberated countries that are known today as Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama from the Spanish Empire. Many of you may know of Simon Bolivar, but don’t know much about him. One amazing fact about Bolivar is that he fought 472 battles, of which 79 were important ones, and during his campaigns he rode 77,000 miles on horseback, which is 10 times more than Hannibal, three times more than Napoleon, and twice as much as Alexander the Great.
Most of Bolivar’s battles were offensive rather than defensive. There is a difference between an offensive and a defensive battle. Watchman Nee, the Chinese evangelist, writes:
The difference between defensive and offensive warfare is this, that in the former I have got the ground and only seek to keep it, whereas in the latter I have not got the ground and am fighting in order to get it. And that is precisely the difference between the warfare waged by the Lord Jesus and the warfare waged by us. His was offensive; ours is, in essence, defensive. He warred against Satan in order to gain the victory. Through the cross he carried that warfare to the very threshold of Hell itself, to lead forth thence his captivity captive. Today we war against Satan only to maintain and consolidate the victory which he has already gained. By the resurrection God proclaimed his Son victor over the whole realm of darkness, and the ground Christ won he has given to us. We do not need to fight to obtain it. We only need to hold it against all challengers.
So, Paul wants the Philippians—and us—to “stand firm thus in the Lord.” But, how do we do so? That is the burden of the rest of the chapter.
Philippians 4:1-9 teaches us a number of ways in which we are stand firm in the Lord.
Let’s use the following outline:?
1. Agree in the Lord (4:2-3)
2. Rejoice in the Lord Always (4:4)
3. Be Reasonable (4:5)
4. Do Not Be Anxious about Anything (4:6-7)
5. Think Holy Thoughts (4:8-9)
I. Agree in the Lord (4:2-3)
First, to stand firm in the Lord we must agree in the Lord.
Paul writes in verses 2-3, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 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.” Two women, Euodia and Syntyche apparently had some kind of disagreement. Paul does not say what it is. I don’t think it is a doctrinal issue, because if it were, Paul would have addressed that as he always did in his letters. No, their disagreement seems to have been some personal or relational matter. Notice, how Paul addressed the matter.