|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:2-9 Let believers be of one mind, and ready to help each other. As the apostle had found the benefit of their assistance, he knew how comfortable it would be to his fellow-labourers to have the help of others. Let us seek to give assurance that our names are written in the book of life. Joy in God is of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it. It more than outweighs all causes for sorrow. Let their enemies perceive how moderate they were as to outward things, and how composedly they suffered loss and hardships. The day of judgment will soon arrive, with full redemption to believers, and destruction to ungodly men. There is a care of diligence which is our duty, and agrees with a wise forecast and due concern; but there is a care of fear and distrust, which is sin and folly, and only perplexes and distracts the mind. As a remedy against perplexing care, constant prayer is recommended. Not only stated times for prayer, but in every thing by prayer. We must join thanksgivings with prayers and supplications; not only seek supplies of good, but own the mercies we have received. God needs not to be told our wants or desires; he knows them better than we do; but he will have us show that we value the mercy, and feel our dependence on him. The peace of God, the comfortable sense of being reconciled to God, and having a part in his favour, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, are a greater good than can be fully expressed. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinning under troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm and with inward satisfaction. Believers are to get and to keep a good name; a name for good things with God and good men. We should walk in all the ways of virtue, and abide therein; then, whether our praise is of men or not, it will be of God. The apostle is for an example. His doctrine and life agreed together. The way to have the God of peace with us, is to keep close to our duty. All our privileges and salvation arise in the free mercy of God; yet the enjoyment of them depends on our sincere and holy conduct. These are works of God, pertaining to God, and to him only are they to be ascribed, and to no other, neither men, words, nor deeds.
Verse 5. - Let your moderation be known unto all men; rather, forbearance, or gentleness. The word ἐπιείκεια (here the neuter adjective is used) is translated "gentleness" in 2 Corinthians 10:1, where it is attributed to our Lord himself. In the Aristotelian' Ethics' it stands for the temper which contents itself with less than its due, and shrinks from insisting on its strict rights. There is no joy in a narrow selfishness; joy involves an open heart, a generous love. Joy in the Lord tends to make men gentle and mild to others. "Gaudium in Domino," says Bengel, "parit veram aequitatem erga proximum." Unto all men; heathen as well as Christian. Compare our Lord's word: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." St. Paul would have the heathen say, "See how these Christians love one another." Their mutual love would be the blessed means of drawing fresh converts to the faith. There may possibly be an allusion here to the differences between Euodia and Syntyche; let there be no more disagreements, but rather mutual forbearance. The Lord is at hand. The Aramaic Maranatha ("the Lord cometh") in 1 Corinthians 16:22 seems to imply that these words were current in the Church as a formula of warning, like "Hallelujah" as a set form of praise. The Lord is at hand therefore be not careful to exact your full rights; love is more precious than gold in the treasury of heaven. Comp. James 5:8, "Be ye also patient,... for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." Others interpret the words, not of the future advent, but of the Lord's present nearness. Comp. Psalm 145:18, "The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him." But this seems scarcely so appropriate here.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Let your moderation be known unto all men,.... The Vulgate Latin reads, "your modesty". The Syriac and Arabic versions, "your meekness", or "humility"; graces which accompany moderation, and are very necessary to it, but not that itself. The Ethiopic version renders it, "your authority", which by no means agrees; for moderation lies not in exerting authority and power to the uttermost, at least with rigour, but in showing clemency and lenity; not dealing with men according to the severity of laws and strict justice, but according to equity, and with mildness and gentleness; giving up strict and proper right, receding from what is a man's due, and not rigidly insisting on it; putting up with affronts and injuries, and bearing them with patience; and interpreting things in the best sense, and putting the best constructions on words and actions they will bear; and in using inferiors and equals with all humanity, kindness, and respect: and this is what is here intended, which the apostle would have made "known"; exercised and practised publicly, that it might be seen and known of all, and God might be glorified, by whose name they were called, though their agreeable conversation among men; see Matthew 5:16; and he would not only have this known unto, but exercised towards "all men"; not only to believers, the members of the church, by ruling with gentleness, by bearing the infirmities of the weak, and by forgiving offences; but also to unbelievers, to the men of the world, by not avenging themselves, but giving way to wrath; by patient suffering for well doing, without making any returns of ill, either by words or deeds: this is the moderation here meant, and not moderation in eating and drinking, and in apparel, and in the love and use of, and care for the things of this world; though such moderation highly becomes professors of religion; and much less moderation in religion, or towards the false teachers, thinking and speaking well of them; and interpreting their notions in the best sense, hoping they may mean otherwise than they say, and therefore should treat their persons with great respect, and their principles with tenderness; but this can never be thought to be the apostle's sense, after he had himself given them such names and characters, as in Philippians 3:2; and besides, though we may, and many times ought, as men and Christians, to give way, and yield up what is our right and due, for the sake of peace, yet we cannot, nor ought to give up anything, that of right belongs to God and Christ, in matters of doctrine or worship; nor in the least abate of our zeal for the same, or give way to false teachers in any respect, nor for any time: moreover, moderation in religion is nothing else but lukewarmness and indifference, than which nothing is more detestable, or abhorred by Christ. The argument or reason enforcing moderation in the above sense of it follows,
the Lord is at hand. The Syriac version reads, "our Lord": and the Ethiopic version, "God is at hand". The sense is, either the Lord is near, he is omnipresent, and sees and observes the conduct of his people, their deportment in the world, and to one another; and therefore, as in his presence, and under his eye, they should behave according to equity, and with kindness and tenderness towards their fellow creatures and fellow Christians: or the Lord is nigh unto them, as he is to all that call upon him in truth, Psalm 145:18; he is a present help in time of trouble, Psalm 46:1; he is in the midst of them, and will help, and that right early, Psalm 46:5; and will avenge his elect, and vindicate their cause, and right all their wrongs in his due time; and therefore they should take all things patiently, and not avenge themselves: or in a little while Christ will come to judgment, when he will plead the cause of his people, and convince ungodly sinners of their ungodly deeds, and hard speeches against him and his, Jde 1:15; and therefore they should leave all to that time, and commit themselves to him that judgeth righteously, 1 Peter 2:23.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. moderation—from a Greek root, "to yield," whence yieldingness [Trench]; or from a root, "it is fitting," whence "reasonableness of dealing" [Alford], that considerateness for others, not urging one's own rights to the uttermost, but waiving a part, and thereby rectifying the injustices of justice. The archetype of this grace is God, who presses not the strictness of His law against us as we deserve (Ps 130:3, 4); though having exacted the fullest payment for us from our Divine Surety. There are included in "moderation," candor and kindliness. Joy in the Lord raises us above rigorism towards others (Php 4:5), and carefulness (Php 4:6) as to one's own affairs. Sadness produces morose harshness towards others, and a troublesome spirit in ourselves.
Let … be known—that is, in your conduct to others, let nothing inconsistent with "moderation" be seen. Not a precept to make a display of moderation. Let this grace "be known" to men in acts; let "your requests be made to God" in word (Php 4:6).
unto all men—even to the "perverse" (Php 2:15), that so ye may win them. Exercise "forbearance" even to your persecutors. None is so ungracious as not to be kindly to someone, from some motive or another, on some occasion; the believer is to be so "unto all men" at all times.
The Lord is at hand—The Lord's coming again speedily is the grand motive to every Christian grace (Jas 5:8, 9). Harshness to others (the opposite of "moderation") would be taking into our own hands prematurely the prerogatives of judging, which belongs to the Lord alone (1Co 4:5); and so provoking God to judge us by the strict letter of the law (Jas 2:12, 13).
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