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Pastoral Responsibility 4:1-9

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Paul begins this section with the word “therefore”, which means that it has to be read in the light of what he has written in 3:20–21.  In the light of the great future which is being prepared for the people of God, Paul expresses his joy that that people has been joined by the Philippians due to his labors.  The Philippian Christians are his crown, the sign of his success in the Lord’s work.


1.  4:2–3        Paul counsels two women


      Paul pleads with Euodia and Syntyche to overcome their differences and live as fellow members of the body of Christ.  It must have been a serious dispute since Paul enlists someone whom he calls a “true yokefellow”.  His identity is not known but he was probably a respected and influential member of the church whose word would be heeded.  These women were dear to Paul because at some stage they had worked with him in spreading the gospel.


      The “book of life” picks up the idea found in Scripture that there is a book in heaven in which the names of the faithful are written.  See Exodus 32:32–33; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27.


2.  4:4–9        Joy and peace


      Paul repeats his appeal to the Philippians to rejoice.  This constant appeal was not due to an optimism that everything would turn out right in the end.  It was grounded in faith in the Lord who is true and faithful.  With their rejoicing is to go a gracious, forgiving and tolerant attitude to one another.  Only in this way could they hope to witness effectively for Christ.  The call to be gracious is strengthened with a solemn warning of the nearness of the second coming of Jesus Christ.  “The Lord is at hand” may be a quotation from Psalm 145:18, but it functions much the same as that Marana of 1 Corinthians 16:22.


      Following the lead of Christ in Matthew 6:25–34 Paul bids them to show no anxiety.  They should trust the One in whom their faith rests.  Prayer and supplications are to be made with thanksgiving.  Supplications are specific prayers for specific needs. Thanksgiving is important for it shows a recognition and acknowledgement of past mercies and provides added encouragement to trust in the Lord for the future.


      Verse 7 is well known for its use in services of worship.  When trust in the Lord replaces anxiety the Christian experiences an incomprehensible peace which God alone gives.  It is the peace which God himself imparts to those who put their trust in him. With such a peace they will not waver in their love and allegiance to Jesus Christ.  In the middle of problems and persecution they will have an inward calm.


      In verses 8–9 Paul urges the Philippians to dwell upon all that is conducive to true Christian character – truth, moral goodness, justice, sexual purity, etc.  He holds up before them his own example in both his teaching and his conduct, and assures them of God’s peace if they follow this type of Christian thinking.


Questions for discussion


1.      What helps to create a good relationship between the pastor(s) and congregation?


2.      In what practical ways should the hope of Christ’s return to earth affect Christian living?


3.      In a complex and fast-changing world is it possible for a Christian not to be anxious?


4.      Thinking obviously affects conduct.  How difficult or easy is it to control the mind and enable it to dwell only on those things which are excellent?

Please email your answers to Pastor Mike