Philippians 4:4

Philippians 4:4

4Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Last time we looked at a reported disagreement between two sisters in Christ, and saw Paul admonishing them and their co-laborers in the Gospel to be of the same mind in the Lord. Paul continues now in that same vein reminding us to continually rejoice in the Lord. Paul returns to this theme of rejoicing over and over in his letters. Let’s take a really close look at this monumental verse.
 
A common literary device throughout God’s Word is the use of repetition for emphasis. The ancient scribes didn’t have bold-face fonts, italics, or uppercase type to use for emphasis, so when God wishes us to note something of particular importance, He simply repeats it. For example…
Psalm 14:1-3
1The fool has said in his heart,
There is no God.”
They are corrupt,
They have done abominable works,
There is none who does good.
2The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
3They have all turned aside,
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.
In addition to overcoming the typographical limitations of hand-transcribed scrolls, this makes good sense psychologically. When I was a technical training developer two of the fundamental principles upon which our team based its work were, “Three times for the common mind,” and “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.” God understands that our limited human faculties prevent us from absorbing information all at once. So he gives it to us in small, digestible bites, and feeds them to us repeatedly until we “get it.” Therefore, Paul says here, “I say again, rejoice!”
 
The Greek word χαίρω chairō translated as “rejoice” here is an interesting one. It may be translated not only as “rejoice” as it is 42 times in the New Testament, but also as “be glad,” “joy,” “hail,” “greeting,” “God speed,” “all hail,” “joyfully,” and “farewell.” It is used not only as an admonition as Paul does here in Philippians 4:4, but also as a greeting, salutation, or to wish someone well. Let’s take a few instances where this word is found in the New Testament…
 
In the New Testament, χαίρω chairō is most often used in the ordinary sense where we would use the English word “rejoice,” as an admonishment or encouragement…
John 16:19-22

19Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? 20Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; [χαίρω chairō] and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, [χαίρω chairō] and your joy no one will take from you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16Rejoice [χαίρω chairō] always, 17pray without ceasing, 18in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Luke 10:17-20

17Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”

18And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20Nevertheless do not rejoice [χαίρω chairō] in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice [χαίρω chairō] because your names are written in heaven.”

 

Revelation 19:6-8

6And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 7Let us be glad and rejoice [χαίρω chairō] and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

It’s also really cool that this word is also used in the Bible as a greeting or when bidding folks “farewell” or “Godspeed”…
Luke 1:26-28

26Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, [χαίρω chairō] highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Matthew 28:8-10

8So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.9And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” [χαίρω chairō] So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

2 Corinthians 13:11

Finally, brethren, farewell. [χαίρω chairō] Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

χαίρω chairō was also used as a greeting of respect or honor for a king or other VIP, as in “Hail Caesar.” In the New Testament, we only find it used mockingly by Jesus’ Roman torturers…
John 19:3

Then they said, “Hail, [χαίρω chairō] King of the Jews!” And they struck Him with their hands.

Matthew 27:29

When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, [χαίρω chairō] King of the Jews!”

Did you ever sardonically wish someone “have a nice day” when you were really hoping they would not?
 
χαίρω chairō isn’t the only Greek New Testament word that’s translated into English as “rejoice.” One beautiful example is…
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 [καυχάομαι kauchaomai] 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.

The Greek word καυχάομαι kauchaomai translated as “rejoice” in this passage means “to glory in” – as to glory in something, or because of something, or for no reason at all. In this case, of course, Paul admonishes us to glory in the hope we have through our salvation by the LORD Jesus Christ.

A corresponding Hebrew word for “rejoice” is שָׂמַח samach. It is found over 150 times in the Old Testament, most often translated into English as “rejoice.” Here are just a couple of examples…
2 Chronicles 6:40-42 (Solomon’s dedication of the temple)

40Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place.
41“Now therefore,
Arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place,
You and the ark of Your strength.
Let Your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation,
And let Your saints rejoice [שָׂמַח samach] in goodness.
42“O LORD God, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed;
Remember the mercies of Your servant David.”

Psalm 97

1The LORD reigns;
Let the earth rejoice; [שָׂמַח samach]
Let the multitude of isles be glad!
2Clouds and darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
3A fire goes before Him,
And burns up His enemies round about.
4His lightnings light the world;
The earth sees and trembles.
5The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD,
At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
6The heavens declare His righteousness,
And all the peoples see His glory.
7Let all be put to shame who serve carved images,
Who boast of idols.
Worship Him, all you gods.
8Zion hears and is glad,
And the daughters of Judah rejoice [שָׂמַח samach]
Because of Your judgments, O LORD.
9For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth;
You are exalted far above all gods.
10You who love the LORD, hate evil!
He preserves the souls of His saints;
He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.
11Light is sown for the righteous,
And gladness for the upright in heart.
12Rejoice [שָׂמַח samach] in the LORD, you righteous,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.

Before we leave Philippians 4:4, take note that we are called to Rejoice in the Lord always. It’s easy and natural for us to rejoice in the Lord when we feel blessed and comfortable. But what about in times of suffering and challenge, when God allows seasons of trouble to mold us and stretch us so that we may be witnesses of His greatness and glory? Rejoicing in such times is quite a bit harder. Yet this is exactly what our God calls us to…
Philippians 2:16-18

17Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad [χαίρω chairō] and rejoice with you all. 18For the same reason you also be glad [χαίρω chairō] and rejoice with me.

1 Peter 1:6-9

6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 4:12-13

12Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13but rejoice [χαίρω chairō] to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad [χαίρω chairō] with exceeding joy.

James 1:1-3

1James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:
Greetings [χαίρω chairō].
2My brethren, count it all joy [χαίρω chairō] when you fall into various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Acts 5:41 (John and Peter after being tried and beaten before the Sanhedrin)

So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing [χαίρω chairō] that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Remember the witness of Paul and Silas which led to the salvation of the Philippian jailor and his household…
Acts 16:22-25

22Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Of course the most famous example of a person honoring God and rejoicing in Him in the face of adversity is Job when he first learned of the loss of his property and children…
Job1:20-22

20Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21And he said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
22In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

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