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 18, 2012
1) Philippians 4:8 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
by Tom Edwards
After exhorting the brethren to manifest a gentle spirit to all, to
take everything to God in prayer with thanksgiving (rather than
being anxious), for the Lord is near and their hearts and minds will
then be guarded by God's peace, Paul then says: "Finally, brethren,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever
is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is
any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these
things" (Phil. 4:8).
The Bible has much to say concerning the importance of filling our
minds with the right things. For example, consider the
following: "This book of the law shall not depart from your
mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may
be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then
you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success"
(Josh. 1:8). "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the
counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in
the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the
LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be
like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its
fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he
does, he prospers" (Psa. 1:1-3). The psalmist also states in
Psalm 119:97, "O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all
the day." When some people think about meditating, they might
think of only transcendental meditation that had been brought into
our Western Culture through Eastern religions in the late 60's and
early 70's. But as Mark Copeland writes, "Both Eastern and
'Christian mystical' meditation usually attempt to empty the mind so
as to find or receive truth within (i.e., a 'subjective' form of
meditation)." But this is not the meditation which the Bible
speaks of. For rather than emptying our minds, we are to fill
them with God's word and give serious thought to it. Consider,
for instance, Psalm 77:11,12: "I shall remember the deeds of the
LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will
meditate on all Your work And muse on Your deeds." Also, Psalm
119:15,16: "I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your
ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget
Your word." In showing the distinction between Eastern
meditation and Biblical mediation, Copeland goes on to say that
"Christian meditation dwells on that already revealed in creation or
inspired revelation. Whereas other forms of meditation are
seeking some new truth to be revealed."
By giving our full attention to God's word (of not only meditating
upon it, but also applying it), our minds will be renewed; and we
will be set free from worldly entrapments and have our lives
transformed for the better (cf. Rom. 12:1,2). For that
transformation also involves are putting off the "old man" of sin,
and putting on the "new," which is how we strive to develop Christ's
nature within us (Col. 3:5-14). For we are to "Have this
attitude (mind, KJV) in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus"
(Phil. 2:5). It is only by looking to the Scriptures, giving
our attention to His word, and allowing His word to govern us that
this attitude or mind of Christ can be developed in us.
In thinking more on what we are to meditate on, Paul gives it
various descriptions. He first says, "whatever is true" (Phil.
Unfortunately, to many people today, the Bible is not a true
account; rather, to them, it is nothing more than a "myth" or a
"fable." But Peter declares, "For we did not follow cleverly
devised tales (fables, KJV) when we made known to you the power and
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His
majesty" (2 Pet. 1:16). The word "tales" comes from the Greek
word "muthos," which is defined as "a tale, that is, fiction
('myth')..." (James Strong). The NASB, in addition, renders
this word as "myths" three times and as "fables" once. But we
note, too, that what Peter testifies of is not second-hand
information. Rather, he was an eyewitness of those
things. As he goes on to show, "For when He received honor and
glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him
by the Majestic Glory, 'This is My beloved Son with whom I am
well-pleased' -- and we ourselves heard this utterance made from
heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain" (2 Pet.
1:17,18). John was also there with Peter, at the Mount of
Transfiguration. Notice what he writes in 1 John 1:1-3: "What
was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with
our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands,
concerning the Word of Life -- and the life was manifested, and we
have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which
was with the Father and was manifested to us -- what we have seen
and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have
fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father,
and with His Son Jesus Christ." This is really something to
realize. What we have in most of the New Testament are
eye-witness accounts. It is not what someone said about what
someone said about what someone said, and on and on down to our
time; but we can hear the testimony of men who were actually with
the Christ, heard Him, saw Him, learned from Him, and report about
Him -- and did so by the Holy Spirit. If ever a witness could
be believed, it is these men whom the Lord used to give us the
Paul also shows that we need to meditate on "whatever is
honorable." This is a common rendering, though some versions
translate it as "worthy of respect," "noble" (NKJ, NIV), and
"honest" (KJV). From the Greek word "semnos," it means
"august, venerable," or "reverend" (Thayer). And things
"august" are "inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity
or grandeur; majestic"; things "venerable" are "worthy of respect or
reverence, as because of great age, high office, or noble
character"; and that which is "reverend" is "regard[ed] with a
respect that is tinged with awe" (Random House Webster's Electronic
Dictionary and Thesaurus). The NASB also translates this word
as "dignified," in pertaining to the conduct of women (1 Tim. 3:11)
and older men (Titus 2:2); and as "men of dignity" in referring to
the deacons (1 Tim. 3:8). So meditating on the right ways to
live is another way of reflecting on the honorable.
Paul then speaks of meditating on "whatever is right."
Especially in a world where more and more people are calling good
evil, and evil good, we need to keep our minds in tune to what the
Lord calls "right" and glory in that -- and even if it is only the
minority of us who do. In addition, to have a love for the things
that are right will also be a motivation toward carrying out those
things. So, we first think about them; and then we practice
them. But would this not be one of the reasons why we are told
to meditate on all these good things? Because good thoughts
can lead to good actions. In Philppians 4:8, "right" is often
translated as "just" in other versions (which seems to be the most
common); but also as "righteous" and "upright." One of the
ways that Thayer shows the Greek word (dikaios) is used in the
Scriptures is to mean "approved of or acceptable to God." And
isn't that the type of things better to think on? To the
contrary, however, we note in Genesis 6:5 what the Lord saw in the
heart of man during Noah's day: "Then the LORD saw that the
wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of
the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Consider
also God's warning to His people in Jeremiah 4:14: "Wash your heart
from evil, O Jerusalem, That you may be saved. How long will your
wicked thoughts lodge within you?"
Another thing Paul shows that we are to think on is "whatever is
pure," which is from the Greek word "hagnos." Thayer shows
that this word can also mean "exciting reverence, venerable,
sacred"; but, secondarily, "2a) pure from carnality, chaste,
modest 2b) pure from every fault, immaculate." Most
Bible versions of the 20-some I looked this up in, render it as
"pure"; but there were a couple that also have it as "holy."
The Greek word actually stems from "hagios," which is the word most
often translated in the New Testament as "holy" and is also rendered
frequently as "saints." And isn't it easy to see a connection
between being a "saint," being "holy," and being "pure"? A
saint is to live a holy life, and to live a holy life is to live a
life that is pure. This is essential toward gaining access to
heaven, as Jesus shows in Matthew 5:8: "Blessed are the pure in
heart, for they shall see God." Though "pure" in Matthew 5:8
is from a different Greek word, it still expresses the need to be
"clean," "pure," "free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt,"
"sincere," "genuine," "blameless, innocent," "unstained with the
guilt of anything" (as Thayer defines it). "Pure," in
Philippians 4:8, is from the same Greek word that Paul uses in 1
Timothy 5:22, where he exhorts Timothy to "keep yourself FREE FROM
SIN." It is also rendered as "innocent" (2 Cor. 7:11).
Guilt can sometimes do much damage to a person -- psychologically,
as well as physically. How much better it is for one to be
pure in God's sight (through the blood of Jesus) and to think on
things of purity; then those things of defilement and guilt.
Being "pure" is also one of the characteristics of the wisdom from
above (Jms. 3:17); and purity is one of the virtues that the older
women are to teach the younger women to have (Titus 2:3-5).
Going along with this, Peter also uses this Greek word when
instructing wives to be "chaste" (1 Pet. 3:2). Of course,
every Christian is to strive for "purity" and to look to Jesus as
our standard for it: "And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him
purifies himself, just as He is PURE" (1 Jn. 3:3). Since He
was 100% that way, Jesus epitomizes purity in its fullest form: "For
it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent,
undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens"
(Heb. 7:26). We note in Philippians 4:8 that the phrase is "WHATEVER
is pure," and Robertson points out in his "Word Pictures" that
"hagnos" pertains to "all sorts of purity. There are clean
things, thoughts, words, deeds." And so, again, we see a
connection to the mind and the body -- or to the thoughts of purity
that will lead to a lifestyle of purity. This type of
connection is also seen in Matthew 15:18,19, where Jesus speaks of
various evil things that can come from the heart and defile the
person: "evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts,
false witness, slanders."
Paul then says in Philippians 4:8 to think on "whatever is lovely,"
from the Greek word "prosphiles" and used only here in the New
Testament and defined as "acceptable" and "pleasing" (Thayer).
It is also "what is dear to anyone; then what is pleasing.
Here it means amiable -- such a temper of mind that one can love it;
or such as to be agreeable to others" (Albert Barnes). In
contrast to this, he then points out that "A Christian should not be
sour, crabby, or irritable in his temper -- for nothing almost tends
so much to injure the cause of religion as a temper always
chafed....A sour and crabby temper in a professor of religion will
undo all the good that he attempts to do." The idea of this
word indicating "amiability" is mentioned by several
commentators. So the Christian is to be "1. having or showing
agreeable personal qualities; pleasant; affable. 2. friendly;
sociable" (RHWED). And the very word "lovely" itself, not only
means "having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as
to the eye"; but also as "highly pleasing; delightful" and, thirdly,
"of great moral or spiritual beauty" -- such as in the case of a
person who has a "lovely character" (ibid.). "Lovely" is a
very common rendering of this Greek word in Philippians 4:8; but
some versions have also rendered it as "acceptable," "friendly," and
"amiable." As we consider this word with regard to a person's
character being "lovely," we are made aware that true beauty -- and
the greatest beauty -- is an inner beauty. Some people can be
very beautiful or handsome on the outside, but then become very ugly
by their actions and speech. It is truly the inner beauty that
has far greater worth than the external. Peter, for example, exhorts
wives to be more concerned with how they adorn "the hidden person of
the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet
spirit, which is precious in the sight of God," rather than merely
their external appearance (1 Pet. 3:1-5).
Paul next shows that what we are to meditate upon is "whatever is
of good repute." The phrase "good repute" is from the
Greek word "euphemos" and defined as "well spoken of, that is,
reputable" (James Strong). So things of good repute are things
of a favorable or good reputation. Another common rendering of
"good repute" is "good report"; but it is also translated as
"whatever is admirable" (NIV), "whatever is gracious" (RSV),
"whatever things are of value" (BBE), "whatever is... Proper" (CEV),
"whatsoever of good fame" (Douay Rheims), and "whatever is
commendable" (English Standard Version, HCSB). So as David
Lipscomb points out, "...the word denotes things in their true
nature so excellent that to name them is a goodly and sacred
thing...Not merely having a fair sound to the popular ear, but
fair-sounding, as implying essential worthiness." Doesn't this
pretty much sum up the entire list of things in Philippians 4:8 that
we are to mediate upon? For all of it is of "good
report." Commenting on this phrase, Albert Barnes writes,
"There are actions which all people agree in commending, and which
in all ages and countries are regarded as virtues: courtesy,
urbanity, kindness, respect for parents, purity between brothers and
sisters, are among those virtues, and the Christian should be a
pattern and an example in them all. His usefulness depends much more
on the cultivation of these virtues than is commonly
supposed." So let us not only think on these things, but also
practice them in our lives.
Paul next includes, for our meditation, those things of
"excellence." The KJV renders this as "virtue," a common
rendering; but it is also translated as "moral excellence" (HCSB)
and "worthiness" (YLT). It is from "arete," which is
defined as "1) a virtuous course of thought, feeling and
action 1a) virtue, moral goodness 2) any particular
moral excellence, as modesty, purity" (Thayer). When we think
of the word "excellent" in connection with God, that certainly
describes whatever the Lord might do. It is also what we need
to strive for as we continue to develop as a Christian, and Jesus is
our excellent example to whom we are to look.
In all these things that we are to meditate upon, Paul then lastly
shows in Philippians 4:8 that we need to let our minds dwell on
"anything worthy of praise." Above all, God is worthy of
praise. First of all, for simply being the God who He is. And,
secondly, for all which He has done for us. The very first use
of the word "praise" in the Bible is Genesis 29:35. It refers
to Leah and her giving birth to her fourth son. The passage
states, "And she conceived again and bore a son and said, 'This time
I will praise the LORD.' Therefore she named him Judah. Then
she stopped bearing." Judah's name, as you can probably guess
(if you don't already know) literally means "praise"; and Israel
told Judah that his brothers would "praise" him (Gen.
49:8-10). This, incidentally, is the second place we find the
word "praise" being used in the Scriptures. The Bible shows of
various things people praised God for: His power (Psa. 21:13), for
His future help (Psa. 42:5), for His word (Psa. 56:10), for His
lovingkindness (Psa. 63:3), for His "great and awesome name" (Psa.
99:3), for His teaching (Psa.119:171), for His "mighty deeds" and
"excellent greatness" (Psa. 150:2), and for His mercy (Rom. 15:9),
to mention just some. God should be praised continually (Psa.
May we each do what Paul exhorts in Philippians 4:8: to meditate on
those things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good
repute, of excellence, and worthy of praise.
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 has been told that he must receive cancer treatment for the rest
of his life. Right now he has it every other week and has
continued with his preaching.
* The following is an update on R.
J. Stevens (from his son Tim and posted by Steve Wolfgang,
3:30 PM, 3/28/12), who recently had by-pass surgery for his heart,
which was followed by a mini stroke:
"Doctors say each morning his condition is improved. Compared to one
week ago, when it was 'touch & go', I agree. However, being here
around the clock the past couple of days, it's difficult for me to
see much improvement because he still has lengthy periods of being
"He's to be moved tomorrow across the street to the skilled nursing
facility (Walnut Hill Place). I took a tour of it today. It's nice.
"Prayers must continue for my dad for a long time to come. Doctors
told me today that his recovery will take time."
* Let us also
be praying for my landlord's grandson, Joseph John Koczrowski IV. As mentioned in
the last "News & Notes," Joseph is a 2-year old who was born
with serious intestinal problems that are so complicated local
surgeons didn't want to attempt it. So after doing research,
the family located a hospital in Cincinnati and had the boy there
recently to be examined. The doctors have seen the problem and
now think that it can be taken care of in two surgeries -- rather
than in five, as initially thought. So that is good
news. Please keep the boy and family in your prayers.
* Here's the latest (3/29/12) on Roy
Fenner (from his wife Michelle): "Roy went to the eye
doctor this week, there is damage to his MACULAR. Good news is that
the shots are working and some of the swelling to the Retina has
gone down. Down side besides the damage to the macular is that he
must continue to get shots in his eye indefinitely but not every
month. His eye with the damaged macular, will ALWAYS be distorted.
He says he is unable to read words no matter how big they are even
though it is clear. Remember I described before it is like looking
through a fish bowl that is bowed out and then in.
"Roy's neck has healed where they cut out the cancer, but has a
small legion next to the scar (unsure if this is more cancer
starting up, but it is not going away) and we still need to get a
plastic surgeon to remove the Basal Cell wound behind his ear that
has been there for over 2 years now. He is not looking forward to it
and of course makes lots of excuses why he can't get it
done.... Please continue to keep Roy in your prayers. I will
send updates as we get them. Love to all!" * Members who have been sick, with poor health, and/or
physically weak: Geneva Wilson,
Jean Calloway, Shirley
Young, and Cheryl Crews.
* 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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