JOY THROUGH PEACE
Stand (v. 1)
Paul writes of his deep love and longing for his brothers and sisters, his “joy and crown.” His thoughts of them resulted in joy as he awaited trial. Paul’s use of “crown” refers to an eternal reward; the believers were Paul’s reward. Thus, the Philippians’ faithfulness to Christ would result in Paul’s joy on judgment day.
Paul also cautioned believers to “stand firm in the Lord” (v. 1). Philippi was a Roman military hub, and the early recipients of this epistle would make the connection with the Roman army standing firm under assault. The command was true then and is still apropos — the Church must stand firm in this world.
We know very little of Euodia and Syntyche other than their faithfulness (v. 2). It should not surprise us that those women were considered co-laborers with Paul (v. 3) — the church began with God-fearing Gentile women who met at the river to pray on the Sabbath (Acts 16:13–15). Moreover, in Philippi, women held a larger public role than in many places in the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, they were at odds with one another. Paul doesn’t take sides, but entreats both women to “agree” or “have the same mindset.” In other words, imitate Christ, who humbled Himself, taking the form of a slave, and was obedient unto death (2:6–11). Paul points to eternity when he writes “whose names are in the book of life.” People destined for glory must live at peace with one another. The Body of Christ should unite and focus on eternal things!
Paul commanded the Philippians with three imperatives. First, “always rejoice.” For emphasis, he repeats the command (v. 4). Joy is not based on circumstances that frequently change — it must be in the Lord. Paul also exhorted them to be “reasonable,” which contains an element of gentleness or selflessness (v. 5). In other words, Christians’ fairness serves as a testimony to all.
Paul reminded the church that the “Lord was at hand” (v. 5) — both a present and future. He is at hand by His Spirit and is watching over the Church. Paul also reminds that the Lord would come soon as judge and examine the quality of His people’s works.
The third command is “do not be anxious about anything” (v. 6). Positively connected to this negative command is prayer, which cures anxiety. I believe Paul’s three terms point to the comprehensive nature of prayer, a crucial part of which is thanksgiving. If we thank others for their gifts, how much more should we thank God, the Author of all good gifts? The promised peace of God (v. 7) enables Christians to live without anxiety and worry. In fact, just as the Roman soldiers guarded and protected Philippi, God’s peace will protect our hearts and minds, both feelings and thoughts.
Paul knew that what the Philippians dwelt on shaped their character. Therefore, it was of utmost importance that they think on the things of God (v. 8). Right thinking is the first step toward righteous living.
It is no different today. Believers must focus on true, honorable, just, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy things. These reflect the life of a person living in Christ. Paul is not bragging in verse 9. Instead, he is pointing to the grace of God that has enabled him to grow in these virtues. In fact, this is the state every Christian should live in — being an example for all. What is the promise for those who follow these virtues? None other than the God of peace being with them! God desires you to realize that He is the God of peace who is with you. You realize this peace through His presence, through powerful praying and right pondering.