Philippians | 1:1-18 | 1:19-30 | 2:1-11 | 2:12-30 | 3:1-11 | 3:12-21 | 4:1-9 | 4:10-23 | PDF |


This small group Bible study of Philippians 4:1-9 contains outlines, commentary, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Philippians 4:1-9 Bible Study Commentary And Questions – Rejoice, Be Thankful, and Pray

Outline

I. Stand firm (1)
II. Encouragement to individual believers to live in harmony (2-3)
III. Rejoice in the Lord and take everything to Him in prayer (4-7)
IV. Meditate on pure things (8-9)

I. Stand firm (1)

Discussion Questions

• What is the “therefore” there for?
• What is Paul’s joy and crown?
• What does it mean that the Philippians are his joy and crown?
• In what way are they to stand firm in the Lord?
• Why does it say stand firm “in the Lord” and not just “stand firm?”

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Therefore – The instruction in verse 1 to stand firm is linked to the previous passage. That section describes the onward push of the believers’ lives, the danger of false teachers, and the knowledge that our citizenship is in heaven. Because of these things, believers are to stand firm in the Lord. Any one of the world, false teachers, or complacency could cause believers to fall away. In other words, standing firm is a key application from what we have learned in chapter three.

2. The two phrases “whom I long to see” and “my joy and my crown” both act as adjectives to describe Paul’s brethren, the Philippians. He has already expressed his hope to see them throughout the book. They are his joy because they are doing well and growing. The fruit Paul sees in their lives encourages him. They are his crown because they are a success of his ministry. He can and did “give them” to God as his work for God, like we will give our crowns to God one day.

3. Stand firm in the Lord – This command is often given in the Word. It shows the solid foundation that we have. Because of our foundation on Christ, we can stand firm. In stark contrast, the one without faith is tossed about by the waves of the sea (James 1:6) and the foolish builder’s house on the sand will collapse (Matthew 7:24-27).

4. In this way – Paul says to stand firm “in this way” or in some translations “thus.” In what way? By setting their minds on the things above, forgetting the past, and pushing forward to the future to press on for the prize of the upward call. They are to emulate Paul’s example in this. This kind of forget yesterday (its hurts, failures, sins, and achievements) and push on toward the future attitude is what allows believers to stand firm in their faith and continue growing day by day.

5. In the Lord – We have no hope to stand firm on our own by sheer willpower. Though a person may be able to give the appearance of following the Lord on the outside by his own strength, if it is not from a reliance on God, it will be short lived. Our only hope for spiritual success is to rely on the Lord.

II. Encouragement to individual believers to live in harmony (2-3)

Discussion Questions

• Who are Euodia and Syntyche?
• Why do you think Paul felt it necessary to specifically encourage them to live in harmony?
• Why say again “in the Lord”? What does this phrase mean?
• Who is the true companion Paul refers to?
• What did Paul want him to do?
• In what way do you think this individual could help Euodia and Syntyche live in harmony?
• What does this personal section show us about our own responsibility in the church?
• Why did Paul often use the term “workers”?
• What does this show us about our responsibility as believers?

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Paul encourages two sisters in unity – This is one of only a few cases where Paul singles out individual believers in his letter. It seems clear that he had heard some news (maybe from Epaphroditus) that Euodia and Syntyche were having issues getting along.

For whatever reason, friction or conflict had developed between them and they weren’t living in unity. Such kind of factions are so dangerous to a church’s well-being that Paul considered it necessary to single them out, exhorting them to resolve the issue before it grew any bigger.

Application: It is all too common for believers to divide and hold grudges against each other. Satan wants to promote disunity. You must be vigilant and work hard to maintain unity (Ephesians 4:1). Part of that is being alert to any issues and then dealing with them quickly. Jesus instructed the people that unity was so important they should even leave their gifts at the altar to seek reconciliation. Is there a brother or sister who has an issue against you or vice-versa? Contact them this week to resolve it and restore your relationship before it gets worse.

2. In the Lord – Here we see this phrase appears again. People have no hope of living in unity without the Lord. We have too many sins, too many differences, and too many different opinions. Yet with the Lord, all things are possible, and we can truly be one. God’s grace is enough to overcome. Ask Him for the love and compassion to forgive those who have hurt you.

3. True companion – Some scholars believe that the Greek for this should be translated as a proper name. Either way, Paul is clearly referring to a specific person in the Philippian church. It could be an elder or perhaps someone close to Euodia and Syntyche. His job was to help these women and all the fellow believers to live in harmony.

From this personal reference, we should be reminded that all the principles in the Bible have practical applications. Paul realizes these principles are not just pieces of knowledge to put in our heads, but they are to be applied to everyday life. He didn’t hesitate to exhort individuals to apply such principles to their own lives, and he even encouraged others in the church to help the brethren put these principles into action.

Be careful not to focus on doctrine to the exclusion of practical application. Both are important. Without obedience to the Word, knowledge is worthless.

Application: You can be like this “true companion.” A true companion is a friend who says what needs to be said to help others grow, even when they may not want to hear it. A true companion comes alongside and spurs his friends to love and do good deeds. Consider how you can encourage your Christian friends to obey the Word. When you do, try to encourage them in specific ways, not just general ways.

4. Workers – Paul often uses this word for believers. He doesn’t say fellow “waiters,” “watchers,” “sitters,” or “listeners.” It is a subtle reminder that all of us are to be God’s workers. Each of us has specific work to do that He has prepared for us.

Application: What work is God calling you to do for Him today?

III. Rejoice in the Lord and take everything to Him in prayer (4-7)

Discussion Questions

• What do you think it means to rejoice? Smile and laugh excitedly?
• When are we to rejoice?
• How can you rejoice even in the midst of trials or disappointments?
• How can we let our gentle spirit be known to all men?
• Is verse 6 a suggestion?
• Is worry something that you can control?
• Why are we not supposed to worry?
• What is one thing that sometimes causes you worry?
• What might be the difference between concern and worry?
• What is worrying good for?
• What does it mean to pray to God “in everything”?
• If God already knows everything that we are thinking and experiencing, why is it important to take everything to Him in prayer?
• Share an example of something you’re thankful for.
• What is something about a trial that you are thankful for?
• Why does it say that this peace is beyond understanding?
• Have you ever experienced this kind of peace? When?

Cross-References

Verses on Worry:

Matthew 6:27-30 – Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

Proverbs 12:25 – Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Matthew 6:25 – Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Verses on Joy:

James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Psalms 40:16 – But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!”

Psalms 28:7 – The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Verses on Tha