August 4 – Philippians 4
Note: the sermon was on the whole 4th chapter, but you could do at least three separate discussions as a group on it. We’ll just be focusing on verse 4-9.
Here we are at the end of the letter, and Paul is beginning his closing remarks. In 4:1 he concludes his thought by looking all the way back to 1:27, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” We’ll continue to see echoes of that theme in verses 4-9, but he takes a minute in verses 2-3 to address a disagreement between two believers in the church at Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche. Note that this isn’t necessarily a break in thought; Paul tells them to reconcile in order to “stand firm thus in the Lord.”(4:1) Such disagreements should be reconciled in the body because they undermine our ability to do so. I mention this in case it comes up in your group discussion; it’s honestly really fascinating that Paul took the time to mention these women and their disagreement in his letter.
In our section for the week, Paul gives a rapid-fire sequence of exhortations. He does this often; check out any of his other letters, especially towards the ends of them, for an example. They generally present a body of diverse comments that are all under one umbrella. Take Romans 12 for instance: Paul gives about 35 different commands that are all aspects of “present your bodies as a living sacrifice.”(Rom. 12:1) Similarly, here we have about 6 commands that are all under the banner of, “Rejoice in the Lord.”(v.4)
For Paul this command to rejoice isn’t some, “everyone just be happy and get along,” nonsense. He’s talking about a disposition of rejoicing, something so complete that it would lead us away from anxiety and towards thanksgiving, setting our minds on the excellent things of God and helping us put these things into practice in our lives. The gospel is meant to produce this comprehensive thankfulness in us; our liberation from sin should lead us to rejoice. Though, note that Paul thought it would be helpful to tell the Philippians to rejoice here. It’s expected that we would need some reminders to rejoice.
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read Philippians 4:4-9 for us?
• What stood out to you from the passage?
• What are some of the commands given here?
• How does this passage help us understand the disposition of the Christian life?
• Thinking back to past weeks in Philippians, where does this disposition come from?
• What are some ways you can grow in the thoughts and practices of verse 8-9? How can that characterize your daily life?
• Looking at verse 9, how do you feel knowing that the God of peace himself will be with us?