Philippians 4:4-7

Philippians 4:4-7
4Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Last time we focused on rejoicing in the Lord moment-by-moment throughout each day, regardless of our circumstances. Our joy in the Lord is a powerful witness to the Truth of the Gospel in a world lost without hope apart from Christ. Paul reminds us now of another witness to the power of God’s Spirit within us…
Philippians 4:5
5Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
It is illuminating to examine a few different English translations of this verse…

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. [KJV]
Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. [NLT]
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; [ESV]
Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. [HCSB]
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. [NASB]
Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. [RSV]

When we considered the dispute between Euodia and Syntyche, one of the admonitions we discovered was…
Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
The gentleness, moderation, consideration, reasonableness, graciousness, and forbearance we see referred to here in Philippians 4:5 is a fundamental attitude required if we are to live peaceably with all men. After all…
Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
Unfortunately, this lesson is one that most of us – particularly men – don’t take to heart except through experiencing the results of harsh words. As a young man, and throughout my early middle age, I myself was prone to fits of rage, and it very nearly caused the derailment of my career, the ruin of my marriage, and the disintegration of my family. The results reverberate among my family even today. Jesus exemplifies for us the more excellent way…
Matthew 11:28-30
28Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
And He gives us this beautiful promise…
Matthew 5:5
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Just as Jesus showed us His example of meekness…
Philippians 2:8
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Jesus suffered and died in obedience to God the Father. He chose not to exercise His infinite power when He was arrested, beaten, reviled, and finally killed. As Creator of all things – the living Word of God – He certainly could have overcome any assault, but chose not to use His power. Indeed, He determined this course of action even before the creation of the world. The choice not to repay evil in kind does not imply weakness, or inability to defend ourselves. When the temple guards came to Gethsemane to arrest Him, Jesus gave them a tiny taste of the true power they were confronting…
John 18:3-6
3Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
5They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus said to them, “I am He.”And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
But Jesus knew that if He reacted in vengeance with violence, He would have failed to win the souls of those who witnessed it. So it is with us. If we live our lives in meekness and humility, trusting in God to show His might and majesty through us when and how He pleases, we witness His strength to those around us. How starkly different this witness is to that of Islam – the so-called religion of peace – which teaches that the so-called infidels who refuse to bow down to its demon-god, allah, must be killed. Isn’t it interesting that the universal reaction around the non-muslim world to the ritual beheadings of prisoners of the so-called islamic state has been revulsion and condemnation. People are naturally drawn to the gentleness we are called to in Philippians 4:5, and repelled by the unbridled exercise of power. Our gentleness is one of the proofs that God’s Spirit lives within us…
Galatians 5:22-23
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
James 3:16-18
16For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
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Philippians 4:5
5Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
The phrase “is at hand” in this verse is translated from the Greek word ἐγγύς eggys. It refers to proximity in time, space, or personal relationship. We can thus consider its use in this verse as referring to Jesus’ imminent return…
Matthew 24:30-33
30Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. [ἐγγύς eggys] 33So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near [ἐγγύς eggys] —at the doors!
Revelation 22:10-13
10And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. [ἐγγύς eggys] 11He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. 12And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
We may also consider this statement that the Lord is at hand to mean that He is personally intimate with us, and in fact dwells by His Spirit within us at this present time…
Ephesians 2:13-18
13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near [ἐγγύς eggys] by the blood of Christ. 14For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. [ἐγγύς eggys] 18For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Romans 10:8
8But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”
The Word which Paul refers to here, is of course, Jesus Christ – the Word of God. It is also fascinating that Paul is quoting here from Deuteronomy 30:14…
Deuteronomy 30:11-14
11For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
The Hebrew word קָרוֹב qarowb translated in Deuteronomy 30:14 as “near” may also mean near in time, place or personal kinship.
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Philippians 4:6
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
I once heard a preacher tell a story about a time that he had preached on the subject of worry, proclaiming (as Jesus did) that worry doesn’t accomplish anything. Afterward, a man came up to him and told him that he could prove him wrong, and that worrying is effective. He said, “None of the things I ever worried about ever happened.”
 
But I digress…
 
Jesus admonished His followers several times not to worry. Perhaps the most famous instance is from the Sermon on the Mount…
Matthew 6:25-34
25Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Later on in this sermon, Jesus tells us just as Paul does here in Philippians 4:6 that rather than worry about our needs, we should bring our supplications to God in prayer…
Matthew 7:7-11
7Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Note that all of the preachers I’ve ever heard preach on this passage have pointed out that the Greek verbs we find translated here as ask, seek, and knock, are in a grammatical case not found in English that implies continual asking, seeking, and knocking rather than a one-time prayer, and then just waiting for our requests to be granted. James affirms this idea when he speaks of praying effectively and fervently…
James 5:16
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Note that the context of this verse in James is in prayer for healing; however, it could easily be argued that it applies equally well to all of our prayerful supplications. We are called repeatedly in God’s Word to pray continually without ceasing.
 
Before we move on, we must also consider that Matthew 7:7-11 has been subject over the years to a great deal of abuse and misinterpretation by proponents of the so-called prosperity gospel. Most of us know from experience that God doesn’t always grant our requests in the way or in the moment we expect Him to. The faith of many a believer has been shattered by the teaching that God is bound by Matthew 7:7-11 to grant our every request. Yet we know that our God loves us, and desires the best for us. He will not allow us to have things we ask for not knowing that they will harm us. We must always trust that His will is perfect, and place our hope on His promise…
Jeremiah 29:11-13
11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
In our prayers, we must be mindful to seek God’s will for us, rather than calling on Him with a laundry list as Bob Dylan says…
Do you ever wonder just what God requires?
You think He’s just an errand boy to satisfy your wandering desires
Instead, we need to pray as Jesus taught us…
Matthew 6:10
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.

…just as Jesus Himself prayed on the night He was betrayed…
Matthew 26:39

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

Once we have sought to align our will with God’s, then He will grant our petitions…
Psalm 37:4
4Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
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Philippians 4:7

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Isn’t it amazing how a believer whose future is assured in the Lord Jesus, can face up to tremendous challenges calmly, and even joyfully? Consider the story of the three young Hebrew men who were thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to worship the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar…
Daniel 3:14-18
14Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? 15Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”

16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

This calm assurance voiced by these youths enraged Nebuchadnezzar so much that he heated up the furnace to seven times its normal temperature before having them cast into it. Yet when God did, indeed, protect them, and was even seen in the midst of the furnace with them, the testimony was so powerful it brought even this powerful, wicked king to repentance…
Daniel 3:28-29

28Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 29Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.”

It’s pretty unlikely that any of us will find ourselves cast into a fiery furnace, but it is all too common these days for believers to be killed in savage and barbaric ways. Yet, the calm, and joy with which believers have faced martyrdom for their profession of faith in Christ has been a powerful testimony to the unbelieving world from Stephen’s stoning right up to the beheadings being perpetrated by the islamic state savages today.
 
It is this amazing, inscrutable gift of peace in the heart of the believer through the indwelling of God’s Spirit that Paul cites here in Philippians 4:7. The true believer trusts fully in God regardless of the circumstances. So much so that unbelievers, and even many believers just can’t understand it. The word Paul uses here is εἰρήνη eirēnē. It is found 92 times in the New Testament. It means…
      I.        a state of national tranquility
a.    exemption from the rage and havoc of war
    II.        peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord
   III.        security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)
  IV.        of the Messiah’s peace
a.    the way that leads to peace (salvation)
   V.        of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
  VI.        the blessed state of devout and upright men after death
Here are just a few New Testament examples…
1 Corinthians 14:33
For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
2 Corinthians 13:11
Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
John 16:33
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
Romans 15:13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 5:1-5
1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Galatians 5:22-23
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Ephesians 2:13-18
13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Colossians 3:12-17

12Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Of course, the corresponding Hebrew word in the Old Testament is שָׁלוֹם shalowm. It is found no less than 236 times in the Word of God. Most Christians are, of course familiar with this word, and indeed some of us use it as a greeting, just as the ancient Hebrews did, and modern Israelis still do. It means…
      I.        completeness, soundness, welfare, peace
a.    completeness (in number)
b.    safety, soundness (in body)
c.    welfare, health, prosperity
d.    peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment
e.    peace, friendship
                                          i.    of human relationships
                                        ii.    with God especially in covenant relationship
f.     peace (from war)
g.    peace (as adjective)
Here are just a few examples from the Old Testament…
Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Numbers 6:22-27
22And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 23“Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:
24“The LORD bless you and keep you;
25The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” ’
27“So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
Psalm 85
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
1LORD, You have been favorable to Your land;
You have brought back the captivity of Jacob.
2You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people;
You have covered all their sin. Selah
3You have taken away all Your wrath;
You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.
4Restore us, O God of our salvation,
And cause Your anger toward us to cease.
5Will You be angry with us forever?
Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?
6Will You not revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?
7Show us Your mercy, LORD,
And grant us Your salvation.
8I will hear what God the LORD will speak,
For He will speak peace
To His people and to His saints;
But let them not turn back to folly.
9Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.
10Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed.
11Truth shall spring out of the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12Yes, the LORD will give what is good;
And our land will yield its increase.
13Righteousness will go before Him,
And shall make His footsteps our pathway.
Psalm 119:165
Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.
Isaiah 26:3-4
3You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
4Trust in the LORD forever,
For in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength.
Isaiah 32:17
The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
Isaiah 53:5
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 66:10-13
10“Rejoice with Jerusalem,
And be glad with her, all you who love her;
Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her;
11That you may feed and be satisfied
With the consolation of her bosom,
That you may drink deeply and be delighted
With the abundance of her glory.”
12For thus says the LORD:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.
Then you shall feed;
On her sides shall you be carried,
And be dandled on her knees.
13As one whom his mother comforts,
So I will comfort you;
And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
Before we leave this discussion of the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, we need to consider the seeming contradiction spoken by Jesus…
Luke 12:49-53
49I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! 51Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. 52For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. 53Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Almost every believer can testify to the division within our families caused by our having been born again of the Spirit. This is especially true of those of us who called on the Lord Jesus late in life. I have personally received vitriolic letters from my brother and even my own son whose fear and distrust of me stem partially from my behavior toward them before I came to the Lord, but mostly from my claim of forgiveness for those behaviors, and assurance in the Lord once I finally recognized the truth. If we are faithful to our calling to proclaim the Gospel to our unbelieving loved ones, it will very likely be met with disdain at best, and outright rage at worst. We are in good company…
Matthew 13:54-57
54When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? 56And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” 57So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”
But this peace among people which Jesus disclaims is not the same as the peace of God that the believer receives with the Holy Spirit…
John 20:21-22
21So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
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