Philippians 4:9-10 Commentary



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Philippians 4:9-10 Commentary

Philippians 4:9  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: a kai emathete (2PAAI) kai parelabete (2PAAI) kai ekousate (2PAAI) kai eidete (2PAAI) en emoi, tauta prassete; (2PPAM) kai o theos tes eirenes estai (3SPAI) meth' humon
Amplified: Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT:  Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you. (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will be with you (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: The things also which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things habitually practice, and the God of peace shall be with you.(
Young's Literal: the things that also ye did learn, and receive, and hear, and saw in me, those do, and the God of the peace shall be with you.


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Philippians 4:10-23 Marks of Maturity

Philippians 4 Commentary (NT for English Readers)
A Practical Study of Philippians - Q & A Format
Philippians Commentary
Philippians 4:10: Consequences of Living Grace
Philippians 4 Commentary
Philippians 4:1-9;
Philippians:4:10 -23
Philippians 4 Commentary
Philippians 4 Resources that mention this chapter
Philippians 4 Sermons, Illustrations (77 pages)

Philippians 4:4-9; Philippians 4:10-13
Philippians 4 Commentary
Philippians 4:10-13 The Secret Society Of The Satisfied
Philippians 4:10-20 My God Shall
Philippians 4:1-9 Philippians 4:10-23
Philippians 4:8 The Christian's Thought Life
Philippians 4:10-13 The Secret for Contentment
Philippians  Commentary
Philippians 4:8-23
Philippians 4:1-9 Stand Fast, Stand Together
Philippians 4:10-20 Give and Take
Philippians 4:10-20 Content In Every Situation
The Epistle to the Philippians Commentary - Excellent  (Or in Pdf)
Philippians: Earthly Conduct of Heavenly Citizens
Philippians 4:10-13
Philippians 4: Caring Friends
Philippians 4  Commentary
Philippians 4:8-9: Taking Control of Our Thinking
Philippians 4:10-14: The Secrets of Being Content
Philippians 4:1-9 General Exhortations
Philippians 4:10-23 Thanksgiving for Philippians’ Gift
Philippians 4 Commentary
Philippians 4:9: Spiritual Stability, Pt 6: Obedience
Philippians 4:10-12 Secret of Contentment
Philippians 4:1-19 Contentment
Philippians 4:1-9 Leave Me Alone; I Can't Cope
Philippians 4:10-20 An Expression of Pastoral Gratitude
Philippians 4:8-9 Devotional Commentary-The Government of our Thoughts
Philippians 4:10-13 All Things are Possible to Him that Believes
Philippians 4:10-13 Three Conditions for the Grace of Contentment
Philippians 4 Commentary
Philippians 4:1-9: How to Have Joy All Year Long

Philippians 4:10-13: Will 1999 Be a Happy New Year?
Philippians 4:10-23 Gifts and Sacrifices
Philippians 4:9 Philippians 4:9b

Philippians 4:10 Philippians 4:10b
Philippians 4: Greek Word Studies
Philippians 4 Notes
Philippians 4:9 Devotional
Philippians 4: Greek Word Studies
Philippians 4 Commentary
Philippians 4:2-9 Sermon
Philippians 4:10-23: Rags, Riches & Relationships
Philippians Illustrations 4
Philippians: Download lesson 1 for inductive Study

THE THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED AND RECEIVED AND HEARD AND SEEN IN ME: a kai emathete (2PAAI) kai parelabete (2PAAI) kai ekousate (2PAAI) kai eidete (2PAAI) en emoi: (Phil 3:17; 1Co 10:31, 32, 33; 11:1; 1Th 1:6; 2:2-12,14; 4:1-8; 2Th 3:6, 7, 8, 9, 10)  (Macarthur on Php 4:9)

Pentecost writes that...

In Scripture, a man who knows what he ought to do and does not do it is called a hypocrite. The sin of hypocrisy is constantly dealt with as one of the cardinal sins with which believers must come to grips. It is that which the apostle has uppermost in his mind as he pens the words of Philippians 4:9  (Pentecost, J. D. The Joy of Living: A study of Philippians. Kregel Publications)

The things - Referring to those things mentioned in Php 4:8.

Eadie says that manthano...

refers to instruction. Ro 16:17; Col. 1:7. The next term, parela/bete, denotes the result of instruction, the appropriation of the knowledge conveyed, or the fact that they had assented to it or had embraced it. 1Cor. 15:1; Gal. 1:12; 1Th 2:13. They had been instructed, and they had accepted the instruction, and therefore were they bound to abide by it. (A Commentary on the Greek Text - Online)

Learned (3129) (manthano related to the noun mathetes = disciple, literally a learner! The shut mind is the end of discipleship!) has the basic meaning of directing one’s mind to something and producing an external effect.

Manthano refers to teaching, learning, instructing, and discipling. Manthano  to genuinely understand and accept a teaching, to accept it as true and to apply it in one’s life. It was sometimes used of acquiring a life-long habit.

Zuck writes that according to manthano..

learning is a matter of a pupil acquiring knowledge of content through a teacher to the extent that such knowledge is experienced in the life. (Bibliotheca Sacra)

MacArthur adds that manthano...

refers to teaching, learning, instructing, and discipling. Paul is referring here to his personal instruction and discipling of the Philippians. (MacArthur, J. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos)

Richards has an informative note on manthano and the related word mathetes...

In Greek culture prior to Socrates, manthano described the process by which a person sought theoretical knowledge. A mathetes was one who attached himself to another to gain some practical or theoretical knowledge, whether by instruction or by experience. The word came to be used both of apprentices who were learning a trade and of adherents of various philosophical schools. After the time of Socrates, the word lost favor with the philosophers, who were not at all happy with its association with labor.

But the concept of discipleship was most popular in the Judaism of Jesus' day. Rabbis had disciples who studied with them in a well-defined and special relationship. The need for training was intensely felt in the Jewish community, which believed that no one could understand Scripture without a teacher's guidance. A disciple in Judaism had to master--in addition to the Scriptures of the OT--the oral and written traditions that had grown up around the Scriptures. Only after being so taught might a person become a rabbi himself or teach with any authority. This notion is expressed in the Jews' amazed reaction to Jesus' public teaching: "How did this man get such learning without having studied?" (Jn 7:15). Jesus taught with authority without having gone through the only process that the Jews felt could qualify anyone to teach.

Several aspects of the rabbi-disciple relationship in first-century Judaism are significant. The disciple left his home and moved in with his teacher. He served the teacher in the most servile ways, treating him as an absolute authority. The disciple was expected not only to learn all that his rabbi knew but also to become like him in character and piety (Mt 10:24; Lk 6:40). The rabbi in return provided food and lodging and saw his own distinctive interpretations transmitted through his disciples to future generations. So when Mark says that Jesus chose twelve men "that they might be with him" (Mk 3:14), he accurately reflects contemporary understanding of how future leaders should be trained. (
Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)

Detzler writes that...

The emphasis on discipleship in Greek is not formal school learning, but rather fellowship with the teacher. It is seen in two situations. First, it refers to the followers of a certain philosopher. They derived not just information from their teacher but also inspiration. Disciples learned the teacher's entire outlook on life, not just the facts which he taught. Second, discipleship had a religious context. It was seen in the pre-Christian mystery religions and in the Greek schools of the Epicureans and Stoics.

Discipleship involved two principles. First, it meant that the disciples had fellowship with their teacher. They lived with him as Jesus' disciples lived with Him. Second, disciples carried on the tradition of their teacher. After he died they taught the same things that he did. Disciples were the main means of perpetuating teaching in the ancient world, since many great teachers wrote no books. (
Detzler, Wayne E: New Testament Words in Today's Language. Victor. 1986)

Manthano is used 25 times in the NT...

Matthew 9:13 "But go and learn (aorist imperative) what this means, 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Matthew 11:29 "Take My yoke upon you, and learn (aorist imperative) from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.

Matthew 24:32 "Now learn (aorist imperative) the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near (Comment: Jesus wanted the disciples to learn in their inmost beings what He was teaching, to understand and receive it with regard to its great importance.)

Mark 13:28 "Now learn (aorist imperative) the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.

John 6:45 "It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.

John 7:15 The Jews therefore were marveling, saying, "How has this man become learned, having never been educated?"

Acts 23:27 "When this man was arrested by the Jews and was about to be slain by them, I came upon them with the troops and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman.

Romans 16:17 (note) Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.

1 Corinthians 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.

1 Corinthians 14:31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted;

1 Corinthians 14:35 And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

Galatians 3:2 This is the only thing I want to find out (learn - manthano) from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?

Ephesians 4:20 (note) But you did not learn Christ in this way,

Philippians 4:9 (note) The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.

Philippians 4:11 (note) Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. (Comment: John MacArthur writes that learning in this context "is much more than mere head knowledge; it involves genuine acceptance of a truth and determination to live a life consistent with it")

Colossians 1:7 (note) just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,

1 Timothy 2:11 Let a woman quietly receive instruction (present imperative) with entire submissiveness.

1 Timothy 5:4 but if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn (present imperative)  to practice piety in regard to their own family, and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.

1 Timothy 5:13 And at the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.

2 Timothy 3:7 (note) always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Timothy 3:14 (note) You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them;

Titus 3:14 (note)  And let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful.

Hebrews 5:8 (note) Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

Revelation 14:3 (note) And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.

There are 24 uses of manthano in the Septuagint (LXX) (Exod. 2:4; Deut. 4:10; 5:1; 14:23; 17:19; 18:9; 31:12f; 1 Chr. 25:8; Est. 1:1; 4:5; Job 34:36; Ps. 106:35; 119:7, 71, 73; Prov. 6:8; 17:16; 22:25; Isa. 1:17; 2:4; 8:16; 26:9f; 28:19; 29:24; 32:4; 47:12; Jer. 9:5; 10:2; 12:16; 13:23; Ezek. 19:3, 6; Mic. 4:3) Many instances refer to learning to fear the LORD.

Deuteronomy 4:10 Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn (Hebrew = lamad = accept, learn, be taught; Lxx = manthano) to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.'

Deuteronomy 17:19 And it (a copy of the Law) shall be with him (the king of Israel - he was to write for himself a copy of the law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests), and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn (Hebrew = lamad = accept, learn, be taught; Lxx = manthano) to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes,

Deuteronomy 18:9  When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn (Hebrew = lamad = accept, learn, be taught; Lxx = manthano) to imitate the detestable things of those nations.

Psalm 106:35 (Spurgeon's note) But they mingled with the nations, And learned (Hebrew = lamad = accept, learn, be taught; Lxx = manthano) their practices,

Psalm 119:7 (Spurgeon's note) I shall give thanks to Thee with uprightness of heart, When I learn Thy righteous judgments.

Psalm 119:71 (Spurgeon's note) It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Thy statutes.

Psalm 119:73 (Spurgeon's note) Thy hands made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Thy commandments.

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.

Received (3880) (paralambano [word study] from pará = from or alongside, beside + lambáno = take, receive) characteristically means to accept a fixed tradition. This word in the Greek was used regularly of receiving truth from a teacher. In the present context, paralambano then stands for the accepted teaching which Paul had handed on to the saints at Philippi. In other words, the Philippians not only understand it clearly, but also give assent to it and in so doing they were now responsible to live out the truth. This is always the principle when we learn and receive truth from a pastor or a teacher. God will hold us responsible to live according to the light we have received.

Receiving truth should always accompany learning truth.  It is one thing to learn a truth, but quite another to receive it inwardly and make it a part of our inner man. Facts in the head are not enough; we must also have truths in the heart. This is inner receipt of the Word is seen in the saints at Thessalonica, Paul writing

And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received (paralambano) from us the word of God's message, you accepted (accepted deliberately and readily = you put out the welcome mat for the Word!) it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. (1Thes 2:13)

Heard (191) (akouo) means to hear with attention or hear effectually as to perform or grant what is spoken. This could refer to what they heard Paul teach and also what they heard about Paul's impeccable reputation from others.

Eadie writes that and heard and saw in me... connected with both verbs. The apostle has referred to his public instructions, and now he concludes with his personal example. What they heard in connection with him is the report about him circulating in the church—the character which was usually given him. Php 3:17....

And saw in me”—what they had witnessed in his conduct and character. His appeal is as in 1Th 2:9, 10, 11, 12. The two first verbs seem to refer to his official conduct, and the two last to his private demeanor....

It is not simply Paul the teacher, but Paul the man, how he was reported of, nay, how he demeaned himself. It is not, do as I taught you, but also do as ye heard of me doing and saw me doing, in reference to all the elements of virtue and praise. (A Commentary on the Greek Text - Online)

Seen (3708) (horao) describes not merely the act of seeing, but also the actual perception of the object. They had observed Paul's character during his time in Philippi, and they knew his walk matched his talk!

Personal example is an essential element of effective teaching. The teacher must demonstrate in action the truth he expresses in words. Lips and life should match.

As A T Robertson reminds us...

The preacher is the interpreter of the spiritual life and should be an example of it

Remember that before the completion of the New Testament Scriptures, the lives of the apostles furnished the main source of divine truth. The apostles were the source of doctrinal truth and also modeled the standards of Christian behavior (compare Paul's exhortation "join in following my example" Php 3:17-note)

The saints at Philippi literally "read" the book of Paul's life. This dynamic is the essence of multiplication of disciples which Paul outlined for his young protégé Timothy emphasizing that...

the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. (2Ti 2:2-note)

Edwards adds that...

Paul now covers the spectrum of things he wants them to do. We see Paul's great heart for discipleship here as well as his total commitment of life to Christ... The truth is first demonstrated, then declared. From that point the Philippians accept it and then finally embrace it. This ought to be our pattern of discipleship. We are responsible that the men we are working with see and hear the truth in us. Then they must respond by accepting and embracing the truth we have transmitted. The goal of all this, though, is that they do the truth they have embraced. It is not enough for us to accept and embrace the truth, we must be equally zealous to do it also. (Philippians)

PRACTICE THESE THINGS AND THE GOD OF PEACE SHALL BE WITH YOU: tauta prassete (2PPAM): kai o theos tes eirenes estai (2SFMI) mete humon: (Dt 5:1; Mt 5:19,20; 7:21,24, 25, 26, 27; Lk 6:46; 8:21; Jn 2:5; 13:17; 15:14; Ac 9:6; 2Th 3:4; Jas 1:22; 2Pe 1:10; 1Jn 3:22) (God of peace = Php 4:7; Ro 15:33; 16:20; 1 Co 14:33; 2Co 5:19,20; 13:11; 1Th 5:23; Heb 13:20,21) (With you = Is 8:10; 41:10; Mt 1:23; 28:20; 2Ti 4:22) (Macarthur on Php 4:9 Obedience)

Practice (4238) (prasso) refers to repetition or continuous action. Practice as a habit.

Paul uses the present imperative thus commanding believers to continually practice these things as their normal way of life.

This verb practice or "do" is the key word in this passage, for to hear truth and not to do it is to delude one's self as James says. We must each...

prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (James 1:21)

Our English word "practice" has a similar connotation for we speak of a doctor as having a practice, because his profession maintains a normal routine. Christians are to make it their practice to lead godly, obedient lives.

Truth must be into practice to achieve its intended purpose as Pentecost emphasizes writing that...

Truth is communicated to a person through the channel of his mind, and truth is grasped by the mind. But unless that which is received by the mind is loved with the heart and translated into action by the will, the truth has not done its proper work. Truth is designed to possess the total person. Truth is not designed simply to teach the mind; truth is communicated so the heart might respond in love for the truth and the will might respond in obedience to the truth... Blessing does not come on the believer by saturating his mind with the truth; blessing comes on the believer as he translates into action the truth that his mind has received... maturity in the Christian life is not measured by what a man knows but by what he does. Let that be indelibly impressed upon your mind. (Ibid)

God of peace is one of Paul's favorite titles for God (Romans 16:20-note; 1Corinthians 14:33; 1Th 5:23-note) Who is characterized by peace and Who is the only source of true peace, which believers experience when they walk in fellowship with Him.


The phrase God of peace is parallel to the preceding one—peace of God. In the former case the peace is described in its connection with God, and now God is pointed out as the inworker of this peace. It characterizes Him...The presence and operations of the God of peace are like the peace of God —they pass all understanding. And this sounds like the apostle's farewell—a pledge of peace to those who were aiming at the high Christian excellence described in the two previous verses, in whom the faith of the gospel had wrought a change which might ripen at length into the perfection of ethical symmetry and beauty. (A Commentary on the Greek Text - Online)

MacDonald explains that...

Those who are faithful in following the example of the apostle are promised that the God of peace will be with them. In verse 7, the peace of God is the portion of those who are prayerful; here the God of peace is the Companion of those who are holy. The thought here is that God will make Himself very near and dear in present experience to all whose lives are embodiments of the truth. (MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

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Spurgeon has the following devotional entitled "To Others, An Example"

IT is well when a man can with advantage be so minutely copied, as Paul might have been. Oh, for grace to imitate him this day and every day! Should we, through divine grace, carry into practice the Pauline teaching, we may claim the promise which is now open before us; and what a promise it is! God, who loves peace, makes peace, and breathes peace, will be with us. “Peace be with you” is a sweet benediction; but for the God of peace to be with us is far more. Thus we have the fountain as well as the streams, the sun as well as his beams. If the God of peace be with us, we shall enjoy the peace of God which passeth all understanding, even though outward circumstances should threaten to disturb. If men quarrel, we shall be sure to be peacemakers, if the Maker of peace be with us. It is in the way of truth that real peace is found. If we quit the faith or leave the path of righteousness under the notion of promoting peace, we shall be greatly mistaken. First pure, then peaceable, is the order of wisdom and of fact. Let us keep to Paul’s line, and we shall have the God of peace with us as He was with the apostle. (Faith's Checkbook)

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Walking Our Faith - Often we Christians are urged not just to "talk the talk" but to "walk the talk." The same advice may be expressed in these words: Don't let your behavior contradict your professed belief. At other times we are admonished to be sure that life and lip agree. If our conduct doesn't harmonize with our confession of faith, however, that discrepancy nullifies the testimony of the gospel which we proclaim.

As far as we can know, Mahatma Gandhi never became a Christian, but he made a statement that we who follow Jesus would do well to ponder. When asked to put his message into one short sentence, he replied, "My life is my message."

Certainly we should explain the gospel message as clearly as possible. Yet the clearest explanation isn't going to win hearts for our Lord unless His love is embodied in our lives. To quote the apostle Paul in 1Corinthians 11:1, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." And holding himself up as a pattern, he wrote in Philippians 4:9, "The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."

Pray, then, that like Paul we may live out our saving faith before the watching world.—Vernon C Grounds (
Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me—
All His wonderful passion and purity!
O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine,
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. —Orsborn

The world is watching us—do they see Jesus


F B Meyer in his devotional commentary The Epistle to the Philippians writes...

Phil. 4:8, 9

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

The God of Peace. We last spoke about the peace of God which, like a white-robed sentry, keeps the heart with its affections, and thoughts, with all their busy and sometimes too promiscuous crowd. We have now to speak about the God of peace; and blessed though the peace of God may be, to have the God from whose nature peace emanates is infinitely preferable. One main constituent of our text is the word think; another the word do.

Thinking and doing are the conditions on which the God of peace will tarry in the heart. To think rightly, and to do rightly--these will bring the blessed dove of heaven to brood in the nest of your soul. Almost everything in life depends on the thoughts, as the forest lies in the acorn, and Scripture itself lays stress upon this. The wise may says: "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life;" and, again, we have it: "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." In this context we notice that the peace of God is to keep our thoughts; and, again, our text says: "Think on these things." The control of your thought, the government of your mind, this is all important for three reasons.

(1) Because thinking about things prepares you for doing them.
If you allow a matter to revolve in your mind, if you turn it over and over and consider it from every aspect, and dwell upon it, it becomes comparatively easy to do it. It is as though the thoughts lay down the tram lines, upon which presently the car of action proceeds. The thoughts lay the wires which presently convey the message. No doubt many of you have again and again experienced this, that when you have come to some great crisis in your life, you have passed through it with perfect ease, because you had so often rehearsed the matter. When you came to act, it was as though you had passed through the experience before, your thought had so entirely prepared you for it. It is of the utmost importance therefore that you take care what you think, because thought is the precursor, herald, and forerunner of action.

(2) Thought is also important, because it has a reflex effect upon the whole character. As you think, so you are almost without knowing it. Wordsworth refers to this; he says:

"We live by admiration, love, and hope;
As these are well and wisely fixed,
In dignity of being we ascend."

If a man cherishes bad thoughts, almost unwittingly he deteriorates; he cannot help it. There is a profound philosophy in Rom. 1, where it says that because they refused to retain God in their minds but cherished their vile lusts, God gave them up to their passions to defile themselves. If a man is perpetually cherishing unholy, impure, and untrue thoughts, he will become an unholy, impure, and untrue man. Our character takes on the complexion and hue of our inward thinking. If a man is ever cherishing noble thoughts, he cannot help becoming noble; if he is generous in his thought, he will be in his act; if he is loving and tender in his thought, he will be loving and tender in his bearing. Thoughts are the looms in the wonderful machinery of the inner life, which are running day and night, and weaving the garments in which the soul shall be arrayed. If you will care for your thoughts, the thought will mould character reflexively and unconsciously.

(3) Thought affects us because we naturally pursue our ideals. Columbus, after long thinking, came to the conclusion that the earth was round, and that conviction determined him to launch his little boat and steer westward. Washington thought that government must be based on universal suffrage and free vote of the people, and this led to the formation of the United States. Wilberforce thought that every man was equally free in the sight of God, created and redeemed to be responsible to God only, apart from the holding of his fellow-man. Young men and women may read these words in whom great thoughts are formulating themselves, and if they are not to be mere enthusiasts, mere weak dreamers, the time must come when they will yoke the car of their thought to the star of their ideal, and presently a life will tower up before their fellows that shall leave a definite impression for blessing upon the race. If you are to be any more than a dreamer and enthusiast, young friend, your thought must, sooner or later, take shape in your industry and energy, even in the sweat of your brow, and the suffering of martyrdom.

Thought Often Unnoticed. It is a remarkable touch in John Bunyan's description of Ignorance, as he walks beside the two elder pilgrims, that he says: "My heart is as good as any man's heart"--and adds, "As to my thoughts, I take no notice of them." Probably there are scores of people who take no notice of their thoughts. They leave the castle gate of their soul perfectly open for any intruder that may wish to enter, either from heaven or hell; and so it befalls that the thoughts of the world, of vanity, of impurity, thoughts which are inspired by demons, but which are arrayed in the garb of respectable citizens, pour into the great gateway of the soul, filling the courtyard with their tumultuous uproar. Without discrimination, thought, or care on their part, they allow themselves to be occupied and possessed with thoughts of which they have every reason to be ashamed; they teem in and out, and do just as they will. This is the reason why you sometimes find your heart filled with passion; it is because Guy Fawkes has entered in disguise with his fellow-conspirators, and under long flowing robes has introduced explosives. This is why our hearts become filled with hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness, with thoughts against God, and against our fellows. We do not watch the great courtyard gate.

Think Reverently. Think carefully, think reverently, says the Apostle; take care how you think. We might almost say you can live as you like, if you are only careful how you think. At the great dock gates they will feel down the casual labourers before permitting them to enter the great warehouse, and again when they come out. We are told that in some of the great hospitals they will search the visitors, especially on Sunday afternoon, lest they should introduce deleterious food, which might neutralise the physicians' treatment. When there was the dynamite scare in London, how carefully the policeman examined everybody who had business in the House of Commons, lest a bomb might be introduced. If only we had a scrutator standing at the door of our heart to examine every thought as it entered; nay, if we could have there the Angel Ithuriel, of whom Milton speaks, and the touch of whose spear showed that the devil lurked in the toad that squatted by Eve's ear and whispered her his secret, how often in what seems a respectable thought entering the courtyard gate we should discover a traitor, who had come from the very pit to set our heart on fire with sin.

The Conflict of Thoughts. It would appear that to arrest the tide of evil thoughts that threatens us is what St. Paul means when he says he is crucified with Christ. When newly converted there is nothing that we suffer from so much as the collision between the intrusion of those thoughts and the new divine principle, which has entered us. Just for a few hours watch carefully at the gateway of your hearts, and see if it be not sometimes almost an agony to exclude those which you must suspect. In beginning to do this, many would learn, perhaps for the first time, what the Cross of Christ means. It might bring the very perspiration to your forehead, in the awful conflict against certain fascinating thoughts, so winsome, so bright, so attractive, that offer themselves with the most insinuating grace. In earlier days, when one's standard was not quite so high, when one was less aware of the insidious temptation that lurks in the most graceful and attractive thoughts, one would have permitted them to enter, but now how great a fight goes on at the great gate of the soul, not only against bold bad thoughts, but against the more pleasing and seductive ones.

But supposing we were left merely with this constant watching and antagonising of evil thoughts, life would be almost intolerable.

Remember, therefore, that not the negative only but the positive, not destruction only but construction, is the law of the Christian life. Not the grave of Christ, but the resurrection power, is our hope; and hence St. Paul says, "Think on these things"--and he gives you six standards of thoughts.


Let these six sisters stand at the gateway of your soul, and challenge every thought

(1) Think on the True.
"Whatsoever things are true." Keep out of your mind the false, but admit the true, because every life, every government, all politics, all business, all great commercial undertakings, all books and systems, which are not founded upon truth crumble sooner or later. If you could visit this world in the future, you would find that the falsehoods which now stalk across its arena, and seem as strong as thistles in spring, will have passed away. Consider things that are true.

(2) On the Honourable.
"Whatsoever things are honourable." The word in the Greek is grave--reverent--respect-compelling--every-thing which is respectable, which makes for itself a court of respect. Exclude from your mind all that is dishonourable, and admit only what is worthy of God.

(3) On the Just.
"Whatsoever things are just." Be absolutely just to other people in your estimate, in giving them their dues. If they be above you, criticise them justly; if on your level, deal with them as you would wish them to deal with you; if beneath you, be just. Everything unjust in speech or habit prohibit; everything which is just foster.

(4) On the Pure.
"Whatsoever things are pure." Here is the fight for a young man's life, to arrest the impure, however bedizened and bedecked, and to admit into his heart only that which is perfectly pure, pure as the lily, as God's ether, as the light.

(5) "Whatsoever things are lovely."
That conduct which is consistent with 1 Cor. 13, which proceeds from the heart of love and thaws the ice of selfishness, which has accumulated upon others.

(6) And on the Things of Good Report.

"Whatsoever things are of good report." Like the elders who obtained a good report; like Mary, of whom Jesus said, "She hath clone what she could"; like the man with his ten talents, to whom the Lord said, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Anything, the Apostle says, which is virtuous, and anything which wins praise of God or man, think on these things.

Let these six sisters stand at the gateway of your soul, and challenge every thought as it offers itself, admitting only those thoughts which approve themselves as true, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. O God, let these six angels come into our souls, and from now until we meet Thee, let us give the entire control of our nature up to their serene, strong, wholesome restraint, that all that is inconsistent with them may be abashed, and everything which is consistent with them admitted to infill and dwell within us.

A High Ideal. You say the ideal is high. Yes, but listen; we must believe that each of these attributes was won by Christ for us all--won by Him. They were native to Him but they were won because He pursued them through temptation. He kept them as His own, face to face with the most terrific temptations ever presented to a moral being. Having endured all, He died, rose, and bore to God's right hand a humanity in which these things were eternal and inherent. Thence he sent down the Holy Spirit to reproduce His risen humanity in every one who believes.
But Attainable by Faith. Faith is the power with which we receive through the Holy Ghost the nature of Jesus Christ into our hearts; so that instead of talking about justice, purity, and self-restraint as so many abstract qualities, we speak about Him in whom those attributes are incarnated. By faith we receive Him, and having received Him, we receive them. Let the Holy Spirit reproduce Him.

Just now we said, Let those six sisters stand at the gateway and test all our thoughts. But it is better to say, Let Jesus Christ stand at the gateway and test them, because He can not only test but roll back the tide of evil thought, as easily as He could make Niagara leap back, did He choose. It is mere stoicism and stoical philosophy to say: Watch your thought. It is Christian philosophy to say: Let Christ keep your thoughts, testing them, hurling back the evil, and filling the soul with His glorious presence.

This is the secret of the indwelling presence of the God of Peace. He abides where the heart is kept free from evil thoughts, and filled with the Spirit of the Son. "The God of Peace shall be with you." (F. B. Meyer. The Epistle to the Philippians)


Devotional Sermon by George Morrison (circa 1900)...

How to Control Your Thoughts
"Those things…do"— Philippians 4:9
The Power of Our Thoughts

We are all familiar with the difference that is made by the thoughts that arise within our hearts. Often they cast a shadow on our universe. A man may waken in the morning singing and address himself cheerfully to duty, and then, suddenly, some unbidden thought may creep or flash into his mind—and in a moment the heavens become cloudy and the music of the morning vanishes and there is fret and bitterness within.

Things have not altered in the least. Everything is as it was an hour ago. The burden of the day has not grown heavier, nor has anybody ceased to love us. Yet all the world seems different, and the brightness has vanished from the sky under the tyranny of intruding thoughts.

No one can achieve serenity who does not practice the control of thought. You cannot build a lovely house out of dirty or discolored bricks. The power of our thoughts is so tremendous over health and happiness and character that to master them is moral victory.

A Moral Task

This mastery of our thoughts is difficult, but then everything beautiful is difficult. The kind of person I have no patience with is the person who wants everything made easy. When an artist paints a lovely picture, he does that by a process of selection. Certain features of the landscape he rejects; other aspects he welcomes and embraces. And if to do that even the man of genius has to scorn delights and live laborious days, how can we hope without the sternest discipline to paint beautiful pictures in the mind?

So is it with the musician when he plays for us some lovely piece of music. Years of training are behind the melody that seems to come rippling from his fingers. And if he has to practice through hard hours to produce such melody without, how can we hope, without an equal effort, to create a like melody within?

There are two moral tasks that seem to me supremely difficult and yet supremely necessary. One is the redemption of our time; the other is the mastery of our thoughts. Probably most of us, right on to the end, are haunted by a sense of failure in these matters. But the great thing is to keep on struggling.

We see, too, how difficult this task is when we compare it with mastery of speech. If it be hard to set a watch upon our lips, it is harder to set a watch upon our thoughts. All speech has social reactions, and social prudence is a great deterrent. If you speak your mind, you may lose your position, possibly you may lose your friend. But thought is hidden—it is shrouded—it moves in dark and impenetrable places; it has no apparent social reactions. A man may be thinking bitter thoughts of you, yet meet you with a smile upon his face. A typist may inwardly despise her boss, yet outwardly be a model of obedience. It is this secrecy, this surrounding darkness, that has led men to say that thought is free, and that makes the mastery of thought so difficult.

Think on These Things

Now, the fine thing in the New Testament is this, that while it never calls that easy which is difficult, it yet proclaims that the mastery of thought is within the power of everybody. Think, for instance, of the Beatitude "Blessed are the pure in heart." Whenever our Lord says that anything is blessed, He wants us to understand that it is possible. Yet no man can have purity of heart, as distinguished from purity of conduct, who is not able to grapple with his thoughts. Again by our thoughts we shall be judged—that is always implied in the New Testament. Christ came and is going to come again, "that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

But I refuse to believe that men are to be judged by anything that lies beyond their power—to credit that would make the judge immoral. Then does not the great apostle say, "If there be any virtue...think on these things?" It would be mockery to command us to think if the controlling of our thoughts were quite beyond us. It may be difficult, as fine things always are, but the clear voice of the Word of God proclaims that it is within the capacity of all.

If, then, someone were to ask me how is a man to practice this great discipline, remembering the experience of the saints, I think I should answer in some such way as this: You must summon up the resources of your will. You must resist beginnings. You must remember the most hideous of sins is to debauch the mind.

You must fill your being so full of higher interests that when the devil comes and clamors for admission, he will find there is not a chair for him to sit on. Above all, you must endeavor daily to walk in a closer fellowship with Christ. It is always easier to have lovely thoughts when walking with the Altogether Lovely One.


Philippians 4:10  But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity (NASB: Lockman)

Greek Echaren (1SAPI) de en kurio megalos hoti ede pote anethalete (2PAAI) to huper emou phronein, (PAN) eph o kai ephroneite (2PIAI) ekaireisthe (2PIMI) de
Amplified: I was made very happy in the Lord that now you have revived your interest in my welfare after so long a time; you were indeed thinking of me, but you had no opportunity to show it. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Lightfoot: It was a matter of great and holy joy to me that after so long an interval your care on my behalf revived and flourished again. I do not mean that you ever relaxed your care, but the opportunity was wanting.
NLT: How grateful I am, and how I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but for a while you didn't have the chance to help me.  (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It has been a great joy to me that after all this time you have shown such interest in my welfare. I don't mean that you had forgotten me, but up till now you had no opportunity of expressing your concern. (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that already once more you let your concern for my welfare blossom into activity again, in which matter you were all along thoughtful, but you never had an opportunity. (
Young's Literal:  And I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at length ye flourished again in caring for me, for which also ye were caring, and lacked opportunity;

BUT I REJOICED IN THE LORD GREATLY THAT NOW AT LAST YOU HAVE REVIVED YOUR CONCERN FOR ME INDEED, YOU WERE CONCERNED BEFORE BUT YOU LACKED OPPORTUNITY: Echaren (1SAPI) de en kurio megalos hoti ede pote anethalete (2PAAI) to huper emou phronein (PAN) eph o kai ephroneite (2PIAI)  ekaireisthe (2PIMI) de: (2Corinthians 7:6,7) (Macarthur on Php 4:10-12 Secret of Contentment) (2Corinthians 11:9; Galatians 6:6) (Psalms 85:6; Hosea 14:7) (2Corinthians 6:7; Galatians 6:10)

John MacArthur provides the background to help understand this verse writing that...

Ten years had passed since Paul’s ministry in Philippi had resulted in the founding of the church in that city. The Philippians had generously supported him when he left Philippi to minister in the Macedonian cities of Thessalonica and Berea (Acts 17:1-13). When Paul moved south into Achaia, the Philippians continued their support as he ministered in Athens and Corinth (Acts 17:14-18:18). As the years passed they had consistently been concerned about Paul, but lacked any opportunity to provide support for him... But recently opportunity arose when Epaphroditus arrived in Rome, bringing with him a generous gift from the Philippians (Php 4:18) for which Paul rejoiced in the Lord greatly. He did so not primarily because the gift met his need, but because it gave evidence of their love for him. (MacArthur, J. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press)


The apostle with the metabatic de (but) passes to the business part of the letter—a personal subject which seems to have in part suggested the composition of the epistle. A gift had been brought to him, and he acknowledges it. The style of acknowledgment is quite like himself. In the fulness of his heart he first pours out a variety of suggestive and momentous counsels, and towards the conclusion he adds a passing word on the boon which Epaphroditus had brought him. He rejoiced over the gift in no selfish spirit; his joy was en Kurio, in the Lord, Php 3:1, 4:1. That is to say, his was a Christian gladness. The gift was contributed in the Lord, and in a like spirit he exulted in the reception of it. It was a proof to him, not simply that personally he was not forgotten, but also that his converts still realized their special and tender obligations to him as their spiritual father.... In the past tense of the verb, the apostle refers to his emotion when he first touched the gift...The language implies that some time had elapsed since the state expressed by the first verb had been previously witnessed.

But (de) is a bit misleading for it does not imply a contrast with what precedes but simply introduces a new idea. Paul now stops directly exhorting the believers and begins his final conclusion of the letter

The phrase "in the Lord" emphasizes again Paul's understanding and dependence on the fact that real life (in this case shown by his great joy) as a believer is due to the fact that we are in union with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul tells the Philippians that their gift has caused him to greatly rejoice in the Lord. It is not the gift he is so joyful for, but the spiritual concern that the gift demonstrates.

Revived (330) (anathallo from aná = again + thállo = to thrive, flourish) means to thrive or flourish again as trees which though seemingly dead in winter revive and flourish in spring. Paul using this horticultural term describing a plant flowering again picture Philippians’ generous affection for him blooming once again after lying dormant for almost ten years.

Concern (5426) (phroneo [words study]) means to have regard for.

The saints at Philippi were concerned for Paul previously, but it was through the gift that Paul says their concern for him was revived or brought to bloom again.

Lacked opportunity (170) (akaireomai related to akairos = inopportunely, unseasonably from a = without + kairos = opportunity) means to lack an opportune time for doing something, to have no opportunity or to lack a suitable time for something.

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Last Updated February 21, 2015