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 11, 2012
1) Philippians 4:5-7 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
by Tom Edwards
After exhorting the brethren to "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I
will say, Rejoice!," Paul next instructs the Philippians to, "Let
your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near" (Phil.
Other renderings for "gentle spirit" are "moderation" (KJV),
"forbearance" (ASV, RSV), "gentleness" (NKJ), and "reasonableness"
(Literal Translation of the Holy Bible). It is from the Greek
word "epieikes," which is defined as "appropriate, that is (by
implication) mild..." (James Strong). Also, "fitting upon,
i.e. Fit, suitable, proper; hence...propriety, moderation,
consideration, (i.e. Not insisting on just rights), forbearance" (E.
W. Bullinger). This is the word James uses in describing the
wisdom from above. It is "...first pure, then peaceable,
GENTLE [epieikes], reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits,
unwavering, without hypocrisy" (Jms. 3:17). It is also one of
the qualifications for an overseer (1 Tim. 3:3), and a quality that
each Christian is also commanded to possess (Titus 3:1,2). For
since God has shown His kindness and love to the world even while we
had been "foolish...disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts
and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, [and]
hating one another," we should, therefore, also be able to be gentle
and compassionate toward others, out of our love and appreciation
for what the Lord has done for us (vv. 3-7). For is this not
part of developing that Christ-like nature? And as David
Lipscomb writes, in commenting on Philippians 4:5, "He exhorts them
not to become embittered and alarmed; but to let all see that they
can be calm and moderate, and that they control themselves in the
most trying ordeals through which they were called to
As Christians, we do not always have to demand our rights; and there
are times when we even shouldn't, as also taught by the apostle Paul
in Romans 14:20,21: "Do not tear down the work of God for the sake
of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man
who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to
drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles."
In 1 Corinthians 8:13, Paul declares this more personally:
"Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat
meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble."
So as Christians, it is this mingling of forbearance,
reasonableness, and gentleness that we need for doing the right
thing and getting along with one another.
Paul then says, "The Lord is near" (Phil. 4:5). The word
"near" comes from the Greek word "eggus," which means, "near
(literally or figuratively, of place or time)" (James Strong).
Another common rendering for this, as the KJV words it, is "The Lord
is at hand."
God is not a being who is so far away that He is oblivious to us;
rather, He is near. To many people, however, God and His
creation is likened to a watchmaker who makes a watch, winds it up,
and sets it down -- but then walks away from it and forgets all
about it. But that is not how God is in relation to the
world. Rather, as Psalm 145:18 declares, "The LORD is near to
all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth."
Consider also Psalm 34:17-19: "The righteous cry, and the LORD hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the
brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many
are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out
of them all." The Lord certainly doesn't forget about us;
rather, He knows more about us than someone would who would be
standing right beside us. For God not only knows when we sit
down and when we rise up, but also is "intimately acquainted" with
all our thoughts and with all our ways (Psa. 139:1-18,23,24).
It is also there in Psalm 139 that we see of the omnipresence of
God. For the psalmist says, "Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You
are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I
take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the
sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay
hold of me" (vv. 7-10).
There are things about God that are way too advanced for us to
be able to fully understand or, perhaps, even comprehend at
all. For instance, we know that the Lord dwells in eternity,
where there is no linear time as we know it; but what is that really
like? For while we live moment by moment, not knowing even one
minute in the future, God already is all eternity and has been able
to tell ancient man of future things that were to come; and even
very specific things, such as Jesus being born in Bethlehem (Micah
5:2), His being betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12,13;
Matt. 27:3-10), His hands and feet being pierced (Psa. 22:16), and
more than 300 other Old Testament prophecies concerning just Christ
alone that all came to pass. Will God be a day older tomorrow,
a year older next year? Are there different ages in
heaven? Or is it a place of agelessness, a place where one
does not grow old? The thought of God's eternal nature -- that
He never had a beginning, but always has been -- boggles the mind;
but I believe it, as the creation itself even indicates that (Rom.
1:19,20). The truth of God's eternal nature is even more
awesome than the endlessness of infinity. Here in our universe
we are familiar with the dimensions of length, width, depth, and
that fourth dimension of time. But in heaven there is no time,
only eternity; and maybe there are dimensions there that we have
never known. Here on earth we travel by going from point A to
point B and the distance between, but will that be how it is in
heaven? Reminding us of Star Trek's beaming a person from
place to place, there are some references in the Scriptures that
appear to indicate something similar concerning certain occasions
when Jesus seemed to suddenly appear (Jn. 6:19-21; Luke 4:29,30; Jn.
20:19,26), and even of Philip the evangelist, when after teaching
and baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch and "...they came out of the
water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch
no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found
himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the
gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea" (Acts
8:39,40). Enoch left this planet without dying first.
The Bible says about him, "By faith Enoch was taken up so that he
would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP;
for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was
pleasing to God" (Heb. 11:5). This is briefly expressed in the
Old Testament as, "Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God
took him" (Gen. 5:24). Paul speaks of having been "caught up
to the third heaven," Paradise, and not knowing whether that had
occurred in his body or apart from it; but the Lord would not allow
him to say anything additional about it, other than that Paul had
"heard inexpressible words [there], which a man is not permitted to
speak" (2 Cor. 12:2-4). Do you think people will need
"vehicles" to get around in heaven? Do you think there will be
the concept there of distances too far to travel? Why not
become a Christian if you are not one already, remain faithful to
the Lord, so that you'll one day be able to find out the answers to
these questions for yourself, there in heaven?
According to B. W. Johnson, this phrase "the Lord is near" was a
"special watchword of the early church in time of trouble. It
meant practically 'Deliverance is near.'" To, therefore, be
one of those early Christians undergoing extreme adversity, what
thought could have given them greater hope or comfort than in
knowing that "The Lord is near"? For He was the one that they
would look to for help.
Paul then goes on to say in Philippians 4:6, "Be anxious for
nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." To be
"anxious" is "to be troubled with cares" (Thayer). The KJV
renders it as "Be careful for nothing"; but the term "anxious"
appears to be the most common among various Bible translations. The
Revised Standard Version words it as, "Have no anxiety about
anything...." Jesus used this word 5 times in Matthew 6:25-34,
where He shows that He does not want His people to be "worried"
about even the necessities of life, such as food, drink, and
clothing; nor to worry about tomorrow, "for tomorrow will take care
for itself" (v. 34). Instead of worrying over these things,
the Lord instructs the Christian to "Seek first His kingdom and His
righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (v.
33). To put God's kingdom first is to put His rule first in
our lives and submit to it. This is also the same word that
Jesus used when he spoke to Martha about being "...WORRIED and
bothered about so many things" (Luke 10:41). Jesus had come to
her home; and while her sister Mary sat at the Lord's feet to hear
Him teach, Martha "was distracted with all her preparations."
So she went up to the Lord and said, "Lord, do you not care that my
sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her
to help me" (v. 40). Jesus then also pointed out that "only a few
things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good
part, which shall not be taken away from her" (v. 42). Jesus
as the "Bread of Life" (Jn. 6:35) is far more important than any
meal for the body that Martha could prepare and serve. This
thought of not being anxious, but praying instead (Phil. 4:6) might
also remind you of 1 Peter 5:6,7: "Therefore humble yourselves under
the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,
casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." So
instead of being anxious, we are to take everything to God in
Prayer is something that should characterize every Christian.
For the child of God is to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17),
and to pray "on behalf of all men" -- and so that "we may lead a
tranquil life in all godliness and dignity" (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
Paul also shows the attitude we should have when praying: Our
prayers are to be "with thanksgiving" (Phil. 4:6).
The Bible has much to say about prayer. For one thing, it
shows how the Christian is to pray: with faith (Mark 11:24),
continually (Luke 18:1), "in the Spirit" (Eph. 6:18), with "holy
hands" and "without wrath and dissension" (1 Tim. 2:8), without
"meaningless repetition" (instead, be sincere and pray from the
heart even those prayers that have been prayed before) (Matt.
6:7). The NIV renders that as "do not keep on babbling like
pagans." Christians are to also pray with a forgiving heart
(Mark 11:25), not to "show off" (Matt. 6:5, 6), with alertness (Luke
21:36), with devotion (Rom. 12:12), with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6),
with confidence (Heb. 4:16), righteously (Jms. 5:16), "earnestly" or
"fervently" (Jms. 5:17,18), with humility (Jms. 4:6), and of "sound
judgment and sober spirit" (1 Pet. 4:7).
The Bible also shows of some specific prayers: Jesus says,
"...pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:28) and "those who
persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). Christians are to also pray that
God will send forth "workers into the harvest" (Matt. 9:36-38), for
opportunities to reach lost souls (Col. 4:3), that God's word will
"spread rapidly and be glorified" ( 2 Thess. 3:1); Christians are to
pray for deliverance from temptation (Luke 22:40), that they will do
what is right (2 Cor. 13:7), that they will be "complete" (mature)
in Christ (2 Cor. 13:9), enlightened with the gospel (Eph. 1:18,19)
and for a love to abound in real knowledge and discernment (Phil.
1:9), to be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual
wisdom and understanding (Col. 1:9), to be found "worthy of your
calling" (2 Thess. 1:11), for effective "fellowship of your faith"
(Phlm. 1:6). Christians are to also pray when suffering (Jms.
5:13), to pray for one another (Jms. 5:16), to pray for prosperity
and good health (3 Jn. 1:12), for strength to overcome (Luke 21:36),
to "stand perfect and fully assured in the will of God" (Col.
4:12.), and to "lead a tranquil and peaceful life in all godliness
and dignity" (1 Tim. 2:2), to mention some of them.
The Bible also shows us the conditions that must be met for answered
prayer: One must have faith and know that God can answer
prayer (Mk. 11:24), must be according to God's will (1 Jn. 5:14),
must know that God hears the prayer (1 Jn. 5:15), must have
right motives (Jms. 4:3), must be of a forgiving spirit (Mk.
11:25,26), and must be faithful to God's word (1 Jn. 3:22).
Paul then goes on to show in Philippians 4:7 that if we do turn to
God in prayer, as He has commanded, then the following will be true:
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard
your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
The Greek word for "peace" ("eirene") is used in the New Testament
to refer to several things, as Thayer shows, such as "a state of
national tranquility...exemption from the rage and havoc of war";
but here in Philippians 4:7, his fifth definition appears to be the
way it is used in this passage: "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." This Greek word is consistently translated 90 times
as "peace" in the New Testament. But in Luke 11:21, it is used
with another Greek word that means "in, on, at, by," or "with" and
translated as "undisturbed." Hendriksen describes this peace
poetically by referring to it as "The smile of God reflected in the
soul of the believer, the heart's calm after Calvary's storm, the
conviction that God who spared not his own Son will surely also,
along with him, freely give us all things (Rom. 8:32)."
In writing to the Colossians, Paul states, "And let the peace of
Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one
body; and be thankful" (Col. 3:15). To be ruled by peace is
definitely something we can be thankful for. And since we are
to be governed by it, it implies we must also cooperate with
it. Consider, for instance, Isaiah 26:3: "The steadfast of
mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in
You." The dictionary defines "steadfast" as "1. fixed in
direction; steadily directed... 2. firm in purpose,
resolution, faith, etc. ... 3. unwavering, as resolution, faith, or
adherence. 4. firmly established... 5. firmly fixed in place
or position...." Some other translations render "steadfast of
mind" as "whose mind is stayed on You." As Christians, we are
to have our minds firmly established on spiritual things. For
when the Hebrew writer exhorts the brethren in Hebrews 12:1 to "lay
aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us," he
then goes on to say in verse 2, "FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS, the
author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him
endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the
right hand of the throne of God." We note from this passage
that we are not merely to "glance" at Jesus; but, rather, to be
"FIXING OUR EYES" on Him, which implies giving Him our full
attention. Thayer defines it as, "to turn the eyes away from
other things and fix them on something."
In personifying wisdom, Solomon declares that "...all her paths are
peace..." (Prov. 3:13-18). Similarly, in following Jesus, we
find peace with God (Rom. 5:1), peace with others (1 Thess. 5:13),
and peace with ourselves (Rom. 8:6). Consider also Psalm
119:165: "Those who love Your law have great peace, And nothing
causes them to stumble." So taking heed to God's word is a way that
we can "Seek peace and pursue it" (Psa. 34:12-14), which also
indicates our need to go after it, rather than just waiting for it
to come to us.
Paul speaks of this peace as being one that "surpasses all
comprehension" (Phil. 4:7). It is also rendered as "transcends
all understanding" (NIV), "goes far beyond anything we can imagine"
(ISV), and "transcends all our powers of thought" (Weymouth).
Sometimes people turn to self-help books, such as those that deal
with the power of positive thinking; but God has something even
greater than that for us, if we will just turn to His word, trust
Him, and accept His way for us.
Not only does this peace exceed our understanding, but it also "will
guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7).
The Greek word for "guard" (phroureo) literally means to "protect by
a military guard, either to prevent hostile invasion, or to keep the
inhabitants of a besieged city from flight" (Thayer), but it is also
used figuratively as well. We can see its literal sense in 2
Corinthians 11:32, where Paul states, "In Damascus the ethnarch
under Aretas the king was GUARDING [phroureo] the city of the
Damascenes in order to seize me." But consider also how it is
used in 1 Peter 1:5, where Peter addresses the Christians as being
those "who are PROTECTED [phroureo] by the power of God through
faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
God's power can be like a military guard, protecting His
people. To be guarded or protected by the power of God reminds
us of some of the things for which David praised the Lord in the
Psalms (Psa. 12:1-8, Psa. 91:1-4). Paul declares, "For this
reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know
whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard
what I have entrusted to Him until that day" (2 Tim.
1:12). Here a different Greek word is used for "guard,"
but a similar thought. Confidently knowing what the Lord could
do for him, Paul could easily entrust his very life and soul to the
We note that all of this guarding was to be done "in Christ," so it
is while we abide in Him that this will be so. For "in
Christ," we have "redemption" (Rom. 3:24); are "alive to God" (Rom.
6:11); have "no condemnation" (Rom 8:1); have been "sanctified" (1
Cor. 1:2); have become "a new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17); "have been
brought near" (Eph. 2:13); have all our needs met (Phil. 4:19); are
made complete (Col. 1:28); have "salvation" (2 Tim. 2:10); have
God's "grace" (2 Tim. 2:1); have God's "peace" (Phil. 4:6).
And we close this section with Galatians 3:26,27, which shows that
one is put into Christ through faith and baptism; and from
elsewhere, we also learn of the need to repent (Luke 13:5) and
confess our faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10) so that our baptism will
So may we who are Christians be of a "gentle spirit," pray with
thanksgiving, allow God's peace to guard our hearts and minds, and
faithfully strive to maintain our relationship with Jesus Christ
that we will be all that the Lord wants us to be here on earth, and
which will also lead to that great home in heaven, where some of the
questions raised earlier in this article will be answered with not
just earthly words that would fall short, but by personal experience
in that far-surpassing and blissful realm of heaven itself.
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,
6:30 PM, 3/13/12), who recently had by-pass surgery for his heart,
which was followed by a mini stroke:
"Pain med has made him too sleepy & incapable of responding to
all therapy. This is not a good day.
Here is the 3/8/12 info:
"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): * 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 this 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.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)