The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
March 4, 2012
1) Philippians 4:1-4 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
by Tom Edwards
After speaking of the Christian's citizenship being in heaven and
waiting for the time when God will transform the Christian's body
into a glorious state, Paul then says in Philippians 4:1,
"Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and
crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved."
The division of the Bible into chapters and verses was done years
after the books of the Bible were compiled. According to one
source, it was Stephen Langton, an "archbishop of Canterbury," who
divided the Bible into chapters in A.D. 1227, which was then first
used in Wycliffe's English Bible in 1382 and in nearly all Bible
translations since then. Verse numbering came along
later. A Jewish "rabbi" by the name of Nathan is said to have
divided the Hebrew Old Testament into verses in 1448; and then a
little more than a 100 years later, Robert Estienne (also known as
Stephanus) was the first to divide the New Testament into verses in
1555. The Geneva Bible is said to have been the first to use
these chapter and verse divisions by Stephanus; and since then,
nearly all Bible versions have used the same.
The chapters and verses are to make it easier for us to find
specific passages. Without them, one might have to say
something similar to what the Hebrew writer states in Hebrews 4:4:
"For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: "AND GOD
RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS." Notice
the beginning of this: "For He has said somewhere...." The
writer could not cite the chapter and verse in the Bible where that
was said because they were not used at that time.
Some Old Testament prophecy had a dual application and fulfillment,
such as in 2 Samuel 7:12-16, in which much of it is referring to
Solomon and also to Christ. Psalm 22 is also said to have
pertained to more than Jesus, though it clearly does foretell the
Lord's suffering at Calvary. The psalm begins with, "My God,
My God, why have You forsaken Me?," which is one of the seven
sayings Jesus said while on the cross (Matt. 27:46). It could
very well be that the Lord made that statement as a way of drawing
attention to that particular psalm with its various specific
prophecies concerning the crucifixion that were now being fulfilled
that very day.
Sometimes, however, where man-made chapter divisions have been made,
it doesn't always seem to be in the best spot. For example, if
we look at the way Philippians 3 ends (vv. 20,21), it would appear
that Philippians 4:1 ought to actually be the last verse of that
chapter -- rather than beginning a new one.
Paul refers to his brethren as "beloved" (4:1). He was one who
had a genuine love and concern for them. We had seen this in
Philippians 1:7,8, where Paul speaks of having "you in my heart,"
and how he longed for them "with the affection of Christ Jesus."
Paul also refers to the Philippians as being "my joy and my crown"
(4:1). These brethren were a joy to Paul because of their
faithful commitment to the Lord, which led to Paul being able to
rejoice in their obedience to the gospel. Compare 3 John
The Greek word for "crown" ("stephanos") has for one of its
definitions, "the wreath or garland which was given as a prize to
victors in public games." It can also be used to mean "that
which is an ornament and honour to one" (Thayer).
We think of children obeying their parents as one of the ways in
which they honor them. And in a similar manner, as Zerr
writes, "Paul felt honored by the faithfulness of these brethren,
since they were the product of his labors, and their continued
devotion was due to their respect for the truth he had delivered to
them." Paul could rejoice in the part he had to play in their
salvation and spiritual development.
He exhorts them to "stand firm in the Lord" (4:1). As children
of God there is much standing firm that we need to do. For
instance, in writing to the Corinthians, Paul urges them to "Be on
the alert, STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH, act like men, be strong" (1 Cor.
16:13). Here the King James Version uses the phrase "quit you
like men"; but it certainly doesn't mean "stop being a man"; rather,
it means to act like one; and standing firm in the Lord is part of
that. To the Ephesians, Paul encouraged them to "Put on the
full armor of God, so that you will be able to STAND FIRM AGAINST
THE SCHEMES OF THE DEVIL" (Eph. 6:11). As we stand firm toward
the things that are right, we must also stand firm against those
things that are wrong. In 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Paul's
instruction is as follows: "So then, brethren, STAND FIRM AND HOLD
TO THE TRADITIONS which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or
by letter from us." Though "traditions" is more often used in
the Scriptures to refer to that which is merely man-made traditions
that clash with God's word (such as in Matthew 15:1-9), Paul is
using it in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to refer to the gospel, which has
been "handed down" by God Himself. For our standing firm
involves "standing" in the light of God's word. Through that
means, we can also have the unity among brethren that the Lord not
only desires for His people, but also died and prayed to make
possible (Eph. 2:13-18; Jn. 17:20,21). And in that unity, we
are also to stand, as Paul exhorts in Philippians 1:27: "Only
conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so
that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you
that you are STANDING FIRM IN ONE SPIRIT, WITH ONE MIND striving
together for the faith of the gospel." Clearly, one's
relationship with God is not merely a one-sided affair of the Lord's
part only. Rather, all this "standing" we have been
considering indicates our responsibility as well. Peter also
makes this evident in 1 Peter 5:12: "Through Silvanus, our faithful
brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly,
exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. STAND
FIRM IN IT!" If salvation by grace were entirely up to God,
what would be the need for this exhortation to "Stand firm in
it"? But we must stand firm in it because God's grace can
become ineffectual in our lives, if we turn from the Lord.
Compare, for example, 2 Corinthians 6:1: "And working together with
him we entreat also that ye receive not the grace of God in
vain." Grace can become vain if we don't give heed to what
that grace demands of us. For instance, Paul shows that God's
grace is "...instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires
and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age..."
(Titus 2:11-13). So how can we be saved by God's grace if we
refuse to do what that grace requires of us? But when our
faith in the Lord is coupled with obedience, then God will help us
to stand firm. The Psalmist declares, "Those who trust in the
LORD are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever"
Paul then states in Philippians 4:2, "I urge Euodia and I urge
Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord." When we think about
1 Corinthians, we think about numerous problems that Paul had to
bring to the attention of those Christians. When we think of
Philippians, however, we think of an epistle of joy. It is a
positive letter; but here is just one gentle admonishment. We
had just heard Paul exhort the brethren to stand firm in the Lord,
and part of that would include their being united in spirit with
each other; but here were two women who were not doing that.
It could very well be that the exhortations Paul makes in
Philippians 1:27 (to "conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the
gospel," to be "standing firm in one spirit" and "with one mind
striving together for the faith of the gospel"; along with his
instruction in Philippians 2:2 to "make my joy complete by being of
the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent
on one purpose") was said with these two ladies in mind.
As David Lipscomb writes, "A Christian shows his selfishness and his
disregard for God when he disturbs the body of Christ to gratify his
own and gain his ends. He ought to be willing to bear and
suffer wrong rather than defile the temple of God."
Whatever the problem was that these two women had with each other, I
hope it was worked out; for they both had been workers for the
Lord. This can be seen in the next verse: "Indeed, true
companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my
struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and
the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life"
(Phil. 4:3). We are not told specifically what these women did
in sharing Paul's struggles for the cause of Christ, but since it
was for the will of the Lord, it certainly was commendable of
Many women, down through time, have been of great service to the
Lord. Though women are not authorized to "teach or exercise
authority over a man" (1 Tim. 2:12) and, therefore, can not serve as
a gospel preacher who is to "...speak and exhort and reprove with
all authority..." (Titus 2:15), there are still other ways in which
they can be of great service. Aquila and Priscilla, for
instance, were a husband and wife who worked together in teaching
Apollos, who, though he had been "eloquent" and "mighty in the
Scriptures" (Acts 18:24), did not know about the water baptism Jesus
had commanded as part of the plan of salvation (v. 25). Aquila and
Priscilla, therefore, after hearing him, "...took him aside and
explained to him the way of God more accurately" (v. 26).
Sometimes women would help out through giving what they could for
the needs of others, as Matthew 27:55,56 shows. For the
"ministering" these women did, who had followed Jesus from Galilee,
would involve financial assistance that they had rendered.
Luke makes this clearer when speaking of "some women," which
included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and "many others who were
contributing to their support out of their private means" (Luke
In Romans 16:1, Paul refers to "our sister Phoebe, who is a servant
of the church which is at Cenchrea."
It is thought that this "Clement" (Phil. 4:3), though mentioned only
here in the Scriptures, is the same as the "Clement of Rome" who
lived until A.D. 101 and had written letters to the Corinthians
(which have been preserved in the writings of the "Apostolic
Fathers"); but this is uncertain, since "Clement" was a common name.
Though Paul does not mention all of his fellow workers by name, he
does say something very important about them -- their "names are in
the book of life." This, of course, does not mean, necessarily, that
there is a literal book containing these names; but it does indicate
the saved state they were in at that time. For the importance
of having one's name in that book can be seen in the following
verses: Revelation 20:15: "And if anyone's name was not found
written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of
fire." Revelation 21:27: "and nothing unclean, and no one who
practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only
those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."
And, as we have seen, this is truly a reason why the Christian can
rejoice -- as Jesus told His apostles in Luke 10:20: "Nevertheless
do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but
rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." The apostles
had just returned, joyful that even the demons were subject to them;
and Jesus said that He "was watching Satan fall from heaven like
lightening." The Lord then pointed out that He had given them
authority to "tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the
power of the enemy," and that nothing would injure them -- but, even
so, what they were really to rejoice in (even above these things) is
that their names had been recorded in heaven. We can further
point out that having one's name in the book of life does not mean
that, while on earth, one has an eternal security that can never be
lost -- for, through sin, one's name can be removed from that book
of life. This can be seen in Revelation 3:5: "He who overcomes
shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his
name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My
Father, and before His angels." Concerning some wicked people
of the psalmist's day, he declares, "May they be blotted out of the
book of life and may they not be recorded with the righteous" (Psa.
69:28). So if your name is not in that book of life, why not
obey God's gospel plan of salvation today that it will be?
As we move on in Philippians 4, Paul says in verse 4, "Rejoice in
the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" This is now the
seventh and eighth times that Paul uses the word "rejoice" in this
epistle; but we will soon see that he also uses it again in verse
10, in the past tense. In connection with this verse, David
Lipscomb writes, "When we surrender self and lose ourselves in
Christ, the fountains of joy are at once opened."
We note that Paul shows that this rejoicing is to be "always."
We, therefore, do not have to wait for special times, or be in
special places. We can always rejoice in the Lord -- and even
in spite of dire circumstances, or troubles of any kind. Psalm
5:11 says, "But let all those that take refuge in thee rejoice, Let
them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: Let them also
that love thy name be joyful in thee" (ASV). And in Psalm
31:7, "I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, because
You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my
soul." Notice the reason for rejoicing in the Lord, according
to Psalm 33:21: "For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in
His holy name." Rejoicing is coupled with gladness, according
to Psalm 68:3: "But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before
God; Yes, let them rejoice with gladness." If we don't take
for granted what the Lord has done, we should find plenty of reasons
to rejoice. For instance, Psalm 118:24 declares, "This is the
day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in
it." Think about that. What if it were up to us to make
our own day? We would have to start by making a planet, add
some air, include some food and water, put a sun in the sky, and
provide all the other necessary ingredients that make up a healthy
environment that can sustain life, just to mention a few of the
necessities. So the creation itself is something we can
rejoice in the Lord for. But notice what else, as seen in
Psalm 119:162: "I rejoice at Your word, As one who finds great
spoil." God's word is the greatest source of all and,
therefore, of the greatest value. For it shows the way of
eternal salvation, provides us with what our soul needs, and helps
us to know our Creator. These are just some of the
reasons why we can do as Paul instructs in Philippians 4:4 to,
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say,
News & Notes
Let those of us who are Christians be praying for the following
* Gyndell Henry (Lea Hall's
grandmother) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
* Mike Dubose
who is continually undergoing cancer treatment.
* The following is an update on R.J.
Stevens (from his son Tim and posted by Steve Wolfgang,
3:30 PM, 3/8/12):
"My dad was moved from ICU to a room today so that more therapy can
be administered. We believe this is a step in the right direction. * Let us also be praying for my landlord's
grandson, Joseph John Koczrowski
IV. He is a happy, contented, little 2-year
old. If you met him, you wouldn't realize how serious and
complicated his intestinal problems are. Local surgeons don't
want to even attempt the operation, without which the boy's life
would be short. After reaching the $1-million limit, the
Koczrowski's insurance terminated. When Medicaid didn't want
to step in, Joseph's grandfather appealed to Governor Bobby Jindal
who has worked it out for the Koczrowskis. What a great guy
our governor is! Some similar rare cases of this particular
intestinal problem have been successfully taken care of in
Cincinnati, where the family will be taking the boy. First, to
run tests to better plan; and then about a month later to do the
actual surgery. All in all, it will probably involve many
weeks of hospital stay. Please keep the boy and family in your
* Here's the latest (3/2/12) on Roy
Fenner (from his wife Michelle): * I received some good news concerning Jackie Evans. Through
additional testing, what had previously appeared to have been an
abnormality from an EKG is now no longer. This testing was for
preparation for same-day knee surgery (scope). She later had a
nuclear stress test and an echo-cardiogram. So we are glad to
hear that the abnormality has now been ruled out.
* Members who have been sick, with poor health, and/or
physically weak: Geneva Wilson,
Jean Calloway, Lelani Armstrong, Shirley Young, and Cheryl Crews.
* Let us also be keeping Cheryl
Anderson in prayer who will be moving next week to the
Houston area. She has been with the Park Forest church of
Christ for 25 years. Though we will miss her, we pray that all
will go well for her.
* Also, Mozelle Robertson
(Ken's mother) who at 91 years of age is still healing from wrist
surgery; and Clifton Trimble
whose health has been poor.
* Let us also pray that Anthony
Webb and Andrew Robertson will be able to find new
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
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