Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
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(4-7) St. Paul returns once more to the exhortation to joy so characteristic of this Epistle. But it is a joy in the sense of the Lord’s being at hand. Hence it turns at once to thanksgiving and prayer, and finally is calmed and deepened into peace.

(4) Rejoice in the Lord . . . and again I say, Rejoice.—The original word is the word always used in classical Greek (see the corresponding word in Latin) for “farewell” (i.e., “Joy be with you!”), and this verse is obviously a resumption of Philippians 3:1, after the digression of warning. But the emphasis laid on it here, coupled with the constant references to joy in the Epistle, show that St. Paul designed to call attention to its strict meaning, and to enforce, again and again, the Christian duty of joy. It is, of course, a “joy in the Lord:” for only in the Lord is joy possible to any thoughtful mind or feeling heart in such a world as this.



Php 4:4.

It has been well said that this whole epistle may be summed up in two short sentences: ‘I rejoice’; ‘Rejoice ye!’ The word and the thing crop up in every chapter, like some hidden brook, ever and anon sparkling out into the sunshine from beneath the shadows. This continual refrain of gladness is all the more remarkable if we remember the Apostle’s circumstances. The letter shows him to us as a prisoner, dependent on Christian charity for a living, having no man like-minded to cheer his solitude; uncertain as to ‘how it shall be with me,’ and obliged to contemplate the possibility of being ‘offered,’ or poured out as a libation, ‘on the sacrifice and service of your faith.’ Yet out of all the darkness his clear notes ring jubilant; and this sunny epistle comes from the pen of a prisoner who did not know but that to-morrow he might be a martyr.

The exhortation of my text, with its urgent reiteration, picks up again a dropped thread which the Apostle had first introduced in the commencement of the previous chapter. He had there evidently been intending to close his letter, for he says: ‘Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord’; but he is drawn away into that precious personal digression which we could so ill spare, in which he speaks of his continual aspiration and effort towards things not yet attained. And now he comes back again, picks up the thread once more, and addresses himself to his parting counsels. The reiteration in the text becomes the more impressive if we remember that it is a repetition of a former injunction. ‘Rejoice in the Lord alway’; and then he seems to hear one of his Philippian readers saying: ‘Why! you told us that once before!’ ‘Yes,’ he says, ‘and you shall hear it once again; so important is my commandment that it shall be repeated a third time. So I again say, "rejoice!"‘ Christian gladness is an important element in Christian duty; and the difficulty and necessity of it are indicated by the urgent repetition of the injunction.

I. So, then, the first thought that suggests itself to me from these words is this, that close union with Jesus Christ is the foundation of real gladness.

Pray note that ‘the Lord’ here, as is usually the case in Paul’s Epistles, means, not the Divine Father, but Jesus Christ. And then observe, again, that the phrase ‘Rejoice in the Lord’ has a deeper meaning than we sometimes attach to it. We are accustomed to speak of rejoicing in a thing or a person, which, or who, is thereby represented as being the occasion or the object of our gladness. And though that is true, in reference to our Lord, it is not the whole sweep and depth of the Apostle’s meaning here. He is employing that phrase, ‘in the Lord,’ in the profound and comprehensive sense in which it generally appears in his letters, and especially in those almost contemporaneous with this Epistle to the Philippians. I need only refer you, in passing, without quoting passages, to the continual use of that phrase in the nearly contemporaneous letter to the Ephesians, in which you will find that ‘in Christ Jesus’ is the signature stamped upon all the gifts of God, and upon all the possible blessings of the Christian life. ‘In Him’ we have the inheritance; in Him we obtain redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins; in Him we are ‘blessed with all spiritual blessings.’ And the deepest description of the essential characteristic of a Christian life is, to Paul, that it is a life in Christ.

It is this close union which the Apostle here indicates as being the foundation and the source of all that gladness which he desires to see spreading its light over the Christian life. ‘Rejoice in the Lord’--being in Him be glad.

Now that great thought has two aspects, one deep and mysterious, one very plain and practical. As to the former, I need not spend much time upon it. We believe, I suppose, in the superhuman character and nature of Jesus Christ. We believe in His divinity. We can therefore believe reasonably in the possibility of a union between Him and us, transcending all the forms of human association, and being really like that which the creature holds to its Creator in regard to its physical being. ‘In him we live, and move, and have our being’ is the very foundation truth in regard to the constitution of the universe. ‘In Him we live, and move, and have our being’ is the very foundation truth in regard to the relation of the Christian soul to Jesus Christ. All earthly unions are but poor adumbrations from afar of that deep, transcendent, mysterious, but most real union, by which the Christian soul is in Christ, as the branch is in the vine, the member in the body, the planet in its atmosphere, and by which Christ is in the Christian soul as the life sap is in every twig, as the mysterious vital power is in every member. Thus abiding in Him, in a manner which admits of no parallel nor of any doubt, we may, and we shall, be glad.

But then, passing from the mysterious, we come to the plain. To be ‘in Christ’ which is commended to us here as the basis of all true blessedness, means that the whole of our nature shall be occupied with, and fastened upon, Him; thought turning to Him, the tendrils of the heart clinging and creeping around Him, the will submitting itself in glad obedience to His beloved and supreme commandments, the aspirations, and desires feeling out after Him as the sufficient and eternal good, and all the current of our being setting towards Him in earnestness of desire, and resting in Him in tranquillity of possession. Thus ‘in Christ’ we may all be.

And, says Paul, in the great words of my text, such a union, reciprocal and close, is the secret of all blessedness. If thus we are wedded to that Lord, and His life is in us and ours enclosed in Him, then there is such correspondence between our necessities and our supplies as that there is no room for aching emptiness; no gnawing of unsatisfied longings, but the blessedness that comes from having found that which we seek, and in the finding being stimulated to a still closer, happier, and not restless search after fuller possession. The man that knows where to get anything and everything that he needs, and to whom desires are but the prophets of instantaneous fruition; surely that man has in his possession the talismanic secret of perpetual gladness. They who thus dwell in Christ by faith, love, obedience, imitation, aspiration, and enjoyment, are like men housed in some strong fortress, who can look out over all the fields alive with enemies, and feel that they are safe. They who thus dwell in Christ gain command over themselves; and because they can bridle passions, and subdue hot and impossible desires, and keep themselves well in hand, have stanched one chief source of unrest and sadness, and have opened one pure and sparkling fountain of unfailing gladness. To rule myself because Christ rules me is no small part of the secret of blessedness. And they who thus dwell in Christ have the purest joy, the joy of self-forgetfulness. He that is absorbed in a great cause; he whose pitiful, personal individuality has passed out of his sight; he who is swallowed up by devotion to another, by aspiration after ‘something afar from the sphere of our sorrow,’ has found the secret of gladness. And the man who thus can say, ‘I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ this is the man who will ever rejoice. The world may not call such a temper gladness. It is as unlike the sputtering, flaring, foul-smelling joys which it prizes--like those filthy but bright ‘Lucigens’ that they do night work by in great factories--it is as unlike the joy of the world as these are to the calm, pure moonlight which they insult. The one is of heaven, and the other is the foul product of earth, and smokes to extinction swiftly.

II. So, secondly, notice that this joy is capable of being continuous.

‘Rejoice in the Lord always ,’ says Paul. That is a hard nut to crack. I can fancy a man saying, ‘What is the use of giving me such exhortations as this? My gladness is largely a matter of temperament, and I cannot rule my moods. My gladness is largely a matter of circumstances, and I do not determine these. How vain it is to tell me, when my heart is bleeding, or beating like a sledge-hammer, to be glad!’ Yes! Temperament has a great deal to do with joy; and circumstances have a great deal to do with it; but is not the mission of the Gospel to make us masters of temperament, and independent of circumstances? Is not the possibility of living a life that has no dependence upon externals, and that may persist permanently through all varieties of mood, the very gift that Christ Himself has come to bestow upon us--bringing us into communion with Himself, and so making us lords of our own inward nature and of externals: so that ‘though the fig-tree shall not blossom, and there be no fruit in the vine,’ yet we may ‘rejoice in the Lord, and be glad in the God of our salvation.’ If a ship has plenty of water in its casks or tanks in its hold, it does not matter whether it is sailing through fresh water or salt. And if you and I have that union with Jesus Christ of which my text speaks, then we shall be, not wholly, but with indefinite increase of approximation towards the ideal, independent of circumstances and masters of our temperaments. And so it is possible, if not absolutely to reach this fair achievement of an unbroken continuity of gladness, at least to bring the lucent points so close to one another as that the intervals of darkness between shall be scarcely visible, and the whole will seem to form one continuous ring of light.

Brother, if you and I can keep near Jesus Christ always--and I suppose we can do that in sorrow as in joy--He will take care that our keeping near Him will not want its reward in that blessed continuity of felt repose which is very near the sunniness of gladness. For, if we in the Lord sorrow, we may, then, simultaneously, in the Lord rejoice. The two things may go together, if in the one mood and the other we are in union with Him. The bitterness of the bitterest calamity is taken away from it when it does not separate us from Jesus Christ. And just as the mother is specially tender with her sick child, and just as we have often found that the sympathy of friends comes to us, when need and grief are upon us, in a fashion that would have been incredible beforehand, so it is surely true that Jesus Christ can, and does, soften His tone, and select the tokens of His presence with especial tenderness for a wounded heart; so as that sorrow in the Lord passes into joy in the Lord. And if that be so, then the pillar which was cloud in the sunshine brightens into fire as night falls on the desert.

But it is not only that this divine gladness is consistent with the sorrow that is often necessary for us, but also that the continuity of such gladness is secured, because in Christ there are open for us sources of blessedness in what is else a dry and thirsty land. If you would take this epistle at your leisure, and run over it in order to note the various occasions of joy which the Apostle expresses for himself, and commends to his brethren, you would see how beautifully they reveal to us the power of communion with Jesus Christ, to find honey in the rock, good in everything, and a reason for thankful gladness in all events.

I have not time, at this stage of my sermon, to do more than just glance at these. We find, for instance, that a very large portion of the joy which he declares fills his own heart, and which he commends to these Philippians, arises from the recognition of good in others. He speaks to them of being his ‘joy and crown.’ He tells them that in his sorrows and imprisonment, their ‘fellowship in the Gospel, from the first day until now,’ had brought a whiff of gladness into the close air of the prison cell. He begs them to be Christlike in order that they may ‘fulfil his joy’; and he may lose himself in others’ blessings, and therein find gladness. A large portion of his joy came from very common things. A large portion of the joy that he commends to them he contemplates as coming to them from small matters. They were to be glad because Timothy came with a message from the Apostle. He is glad because he hears of their well-being, and receives a little contribution from them for his daily necessities. A large portion of his gladness came from the spread of Christ’s kingdom. ‘Christ is preached,’ says he, with a flash of triumph, ‘and I therein do rejoice; yea, and will rejoice.’ And, most beautiful of all, no small portion of his gladness came from the prospect of martyrdom. ‘If I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all; and do ye joy and rejoice with me.’

Now, put all these things together and they just come to this, that a heart in union with Jesus Christ can find streams in the desert, joys blossoming as the rose, in places that to the un-Christlike eye are wilderness and solitary, and out of common things it can bring the purest gladness and draw a tribute and revenue of blessedness even from the prospect of God-sent sorrows. Dear brethren, if you and I have not learned the secret of modest and unselfish delights, we shall vainly seek for joy in the vulgar excitements and coarse titillations of appetites and desires which the world offers. ‘Calm pleasures there abide’ in Christ. The northern lights are weird and bright, but they belong to midwinter, and they come from electric disturbances, and portend rough weather afterwards. Sunshine is silent, steadfast, pure. Better to walk in that light than to be led astray by fantastic and perishable splendours. ‘Rejoice in the Lord always.’

III. Lastly, such gladness is an important part of Christian duty.

As I have said, the urgency of the command indicates both its importance and its difficulty. It is important that professing Christians should be glad Christians {with the joy that is drawn from Jesus Christ, of course, I mean}, because they thereby become walking advertisements and living witnesses for Him. A gloomy, melancholy, professing Christian is a poor recommendation of his faith. If you want to ‘adorn the doctrine of Christ’ you will do it a great deal more by a bright face, that speaks of a calm heart, calm because filled with Christ, than by many more ambitious efforts. This gladness is important because, without it, there will be little good work done, and little progress made. It is important, surely, for ourselves, for it can be no small matter that we should be able to have travelling with us all through the desert that mystical rock which follows with its streams of water, and ever provides for us the joys that we need. In every aspect, whether as regards men who take their notions of Christ and of Christianity, a great deal more from the concrete examples of both in human lives than from books and sermons, or from the Bible itself--or as regards the work which we have to do, or as regards our own inward life, it is all-important that we should have that close union with Jesus Christ which cannot but result in pure and holy gladness.

But the difficulty, as well as the importance, of the obligation, are expressed by the stringent repetition of the commandment, ‘And again I say, Rejoice.’ When objections arise, when difficulties present themselves, I repeat the commandment again, in the teeth of them all; and I know what I mean when I am saying it. Thus, thought Paul, we need to make a definite effort to keep ourselves in touch with Jesus Christ, or else gladness, and a great deal besides, will fade away from our grasp.

And there are two things that you have to do if you would obey the commandment. The one is the direct effort at fostering and making continuous your fellowship with Jesus Christ, through your life; and the other is looking out for the bright bits in your life, and making sure that you do not sullenly and foolishly, perhaps with vain regrets after vanished blessings, or perhaps with vain murmurings about unattained good, obscure to your sight the mercies that you have, and so cheat yourselves of the occasions for thankfulness and joy. There are people who, if there be ever such a little bit of a fleecy film of cloud low down on their horizon, can see nothing of the sparkling blue arch above them for looking at that, and who behave as if the whole sky was one roof of doleful grey. Do not you do that! There is always enough to be thankful for. Lay hold of Christ, and be sure that you open your eyes to His gifts.

Surely, dear friends, if there be offered to us, as there is, a gladness which is perfect in the two points in which all other gladness fails, it is wise for us to take it. The commonplace which all men believe, and most men neglect, is that nothing short of an infinite Person can fill a finite soul. And if we look for our joys anywhere but to Jesus Christ, there will always be some bit of our nature which, like the sulky elder brother in the parable, will scowl at the music and dancing, and refuse to come in. All earthly joys are transient as well as partial. Is it not better that we should have gladness that will last as long as we do, that we can hold in our dying hands, like a flower clasped in some cold palm laid in the coffin, that we shall find again when we have crossed the bar, that will grow and brighten and broaden for evermore? My joy shall remain . . . full.

Php 4:4-7. Rejoice in the Lord alway — For, as believers in Christ, as children and heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ of the heavenly, incorruptible inheritance, and as persons assured that all things, even those that are the most distressing in appearance, shall work together for your good, you have sufficient reason for rejoicing always. And again I say, Rejoice — The apostle repeats the exhortation, because the honour of Christ, and the comfort of his followers, greatly depend on its being taken. Let your moderation — Both in the pursuit of the various enjoyments of life, and in the sense you have of the injuries and indignities you may meet with: or your gentleness and sweetness of temper, as επιεικες υμων may here be rendered, the result of your joy in the Lord. Moderation, says Macknight, “means meekness under provocation, readiness to forgive injuries, equity in the management of business, candour in judging of the character and actions of others, sweetness of disposition, and the entire government of the passions, Titus 3:2; James 3:17.” Be known unto all men — Good and bad, gentle and froward; be made manifest in your whole behaviour. Those of the roughest tempers are good-natured to some, (from natural sympathy, and various motives,) a Christian to all. The Lord — The Judge, the Rewarder, the Revenger; is at hand — Standeth at the door, James 5:9 : he will quickly come to close the scene, and put an end to all your temporal enjoyments, and all that you can suffer from your enemies. Be careful for nothing — With a distrusting, distracting care: if men are not gentle toward you, yet neither on this, nor on any other account, be anxiously careful, but apply to God in prayer, committing the matter, which might otherwise be the cause or subject of your anxiety, to his disposal. And in every thing — Great and small; let your requests be made known unto God — They who, by a preposterous shame, or distrustful modesty, cover, stifle, or keep in their desires, as if they were either too small or too great to be spread before God, must be racked with care, from which they are entirely delivered who pour them out with a free and filial confidence. By prayer and supplication — Some by the former word, προσευχη, understand petition for mercies, and by the latter, δεησις, deprecation of judgment; but it seems more probable that by the latter, properly enough rendered supplication, the apostle meant nothing more than enlarging upon and urging our petitions; with thanksgiving — For blessings already received, and for the general or particular goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering of God toward us. For thanksgiving there is always room and always occasion, even in circumstances of the greatest affliction and distress, our chastisements being always less severe than we deserve, and being salutary in their nature and tendency, and in all our trials supporting grace being invariably given, and God being engaged by promise to make them all work for our good. The apostle’s exhortation doubtless “implies, not only that the afflicted have many mercies for which they ought to give God thanks, but that they ought to be thankful for their very afflictions, because they are the means by which the Father of their spirits makes them partakers of his holiness, in order to fit them for living with himself in heaven for ever.” Thanksgiving, joined with prayer, is a sure mark of a soul free from anxiety, and possessed of true resignation. And the peace of God — Not only peace with God, and peace of conscience, arising from the remission of past sin, and a consciousness of present power over sin; but the peace of God, that calm, heavenly repose, that tranquillity of Spirit, which God only can give; which passeth all understanding — Which none can properly comprehend or appreciate, but those that receive it; shall keep Φρουρησει, shall guard, as in a citadel or place of defence; your hearts — Your will and affections; and minds — Your understandings, imaginations, intentions, determinations, and all the various workings of them in the knowledge and love of God; through Christ Jesus — Through his truth and grace, through his merits and Spirit, through his dwelling in your hearts by faith.

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.Rejoice in the Lord alway - see the notes at Philippians 3:1. It is the privilege of Christians to do this, not at certain periods and at distant intervals, but at all times they may rejoice that there is a God and Saviour; they may rejoice in the character, law, and government of God - in his promises, and in communion with him. The Christian, therefore, may be, and should be, always a happy man. If everything else changes, yet the Lord does not change; if the sources of all other joy are dried up, yet this is not; and there is not a moment of a Christian's life in which he may not find joy in the character, law, and promises of God. 4. (Isa 61:10.)

alway—even amidst the afflictions now distressing you (Php 1:28-30).

again—as he had already said, "Rejoice" (Php 3:1). Joy is the predominant feature of the Epistle.

I say—Greek, rather, "I will say."

He doth here, considering the importance of Christian cheerfulness, which he had twice before put them upon, Philippians 2:18 3:1, stir them up to true rejoicing, not only by repetition of the injunction, but by extending the duty to all times, and under all conditions. For though there be woe to the enemies of Christ’s cross, who langh at his followers, Luke 6:25; yet they who are really found in him, have evermore ground of rejoicing, for all the benefits of God they have through him, and the far more excellent they do expect to receive upon his account, John 16:33 1 Corinthians 1:31 1 Thessalonians 5:16 1 Peter 1:8.

Rejoice in the Lord alway,.... This is a repetition of the exhortation in the preceding chapter; See Gill on Philippians 3:1; with this addition "alway"; for there is always cause and matter for rejoicing in Christ, even in times of affliction, distress, and persecution; since he is always the same; his grace is always sufficient; his blood has a continual virtue in it, and always speaks for peace and pardon; his righteousness is an everlasting one, and so is his salvation, and such is his love; though some join this word with what follows,

and again, I say, rejoice; this is what was continually inculcated by him, as being of great importance and use for the comfort of believers, and the honour of Christ.

{3} Rejoice in the {d} Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

(3) He adds particular exhortations: and the first is, that the joy of the Philippians should not be hindered by any afflictions that the wicked imagine and work against them.

(d) So is the joy of the world distinguished from our joy.

Php 4:4 f. Without any particle of transition, we have once more general concluding admonitions, which begin by taking up again the encouraging address broken off in Php 3:1, and now strengthened by πάντοτε—the key-note of the epistle. They extend as far as Php 4:9; after which Paul again speaks of the assistance which he had received.

πάντοτε] not to be connected with πάλιν ἐρῶ (Hofmann), which would make the πάλιν very superfluous, is an essential element of the Christian χαίρειν; comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:16; 2 Corinthians 6:10. Just at the close of his epistle the apostle brings it in significantly. Paul desires joyfulness at all times on the part of the believer, to whom even tribulation is grace (Php 1:7; Php 1:29) and glory (Romans 5:3), and in whom the pain of sin is overcome by the certainty of atonement (Romans 8:1); to whom everything must serve for good (Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 3:21 f.), and nothing can separate him from the love of God (Romans 8:38 f.).

πάλιν ἐρῶ] once more I will say. Observe the future, which exhibits the consideration given to the matter by the writer; consequently not equivalent to πάλιν λέγω, 2 Corinthians 11:16; Galatians 1:9. Καλῶς ἐδιπλασίασεν, ἐπειδὴ τῶν πραγμάτων ἡ φύσις λύπην ἔτικτε, διὰ τοῦ διπλασιασμοῦ δείκνυσιν, ὅτι πάντως δεῖ χαίρειν, Chrysostom.

Τὸ ἐπιεικὲς ὑμῶν] your mildness [Lindigkeit, Luther], that is, your gentle character, as opposed to undue sternness (Polyb. v. 10. 1 : ἡ ἐπιείκεια καὶ φιλανθρωπία, Lucian, Phal. Proverbs 2 : ἐπιεικὴς κ. μέτριος, Herodian, ii. 14. 5, ix. 12; 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 3:2; Jam 3:17; 1 Peter 2:18; Psalm 85:5; Add. to Esther 6:8; 2Ma 9:27). Comp. on 2 Corinthians 10:1. The opposite: ἀκριβοδίκαιος, Arist. Eth. Nic. v. 10. 8, σκληρός. As to the neuter of the adjective taken as a substantive, see on Php 3:8; comp. Soph. O. C. 1127. It might also mean: your becoming behaviour; see e.g. the passages from Plato in Ast, Lex. I. p. 775. But how indefinite would be such a requirement as this! The general duty of the Christian walk (which Matthies finds in the words) is not set forth till Php 4:8. And in the N. T. ἐπιεικ. always occurs in the above-named special sense.

γνωσθήτω πᾶσιν ἀνθρ.] let it be known by all men, through the acquaintance of experience with your conduct. Comp. Matthew 5:16. The universality of the expression (which, moreover, is to be taken popularly: “let no man come to know you in a harsh, rigorous aspect”) prohibits our referring it to their relation to the enemies of the cross of Christ, against whom they should not be hatefully disposed (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact), or to the enemies of Christianity (Pelagius, Theodoret, Erasmus, and others), or to the Judaists (Rheinwald), although none of these are excluded, and the motive for the exhortation is in part to be found in the outward circumstances full of tribulation, face to face with an inclination to moral pride.

The succession of exhortations without any outward link may be psychologically explained by the fact, that the disposition of Christian joyfulness must elevate men quite as much above strict insisting upon rights and claims as above solicitude (Php 4:6). Neither with the former nor with the latter could the Christian fundamental disposition of the χαίρειν ἐν κυρίῳ subsist, in which the heart enlarges itself to yielding love and casts all care upon God.

ὁ κύριος ἐγγύς] points to the nearness of Christ’s Parousia, 1 Corinthians 16:22. Comp. on ἐγγύς, Matthew 24:32 f.; Luke 21:31; Revelation 1:3; Revelation 22:10; Romans 13:11. The reference to God, by which Paul would bring home to their hearts, as Calvin expresses it, “divinae providentiae fiduciam” (comp. Psalm 34:18; Psalm 119:151; Psalm 145:18; so also Pelagius, Luther, Calovius, Zanchius, Wolf, Rheinwald, Matthies, Rilliet, Cornelius Müller, and others), is not suggested in Php 4:1-2; Php 4:4 by the context, which, on the contrary, does not refer to God until Php 4:6. Usually and rightly, following Chrysostom and Erasmus, the words have been attached to what precedes.[183] If the Lord is at hand, who is coming as the Vindex of every injustice endured and as the σωτήρ of the faithful, how should they not, in this prospect of approaching victory and blessedness (Php 3:20), willingly and cheerfully renounce everything opposed to Christian ἐπιείκεια! The words therefore convey an encouragement to the latter. What follows has its complete reference, and that to God, pointed out by the antithesis ἀλλʼ ἐν παντὶ κ.τ.λ.

[183] They do not belong, by way of introduction, to what follows, as Hofmann thinks, who understands “the helpful nearness of the Lord” (Matthew 28:20; Jam 4:8) in the present, and consequently the assurance of being heard in the individual case. Comp., rather, on the ἐγγύς habitually used of the future final coming, in addition to the above passages, Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Php 4:4-9. GENERAL EXHORTATIONS ON THE RIGHT SPIRIT AND THE RIGHT CONDUCT OF LIFE.

4. Rejoice in the Lord.] Cp. Php 3:1, and note.

alway] This word is a strong argument against the rendering “Farewell,” instead of “Rejoice.” “Always” would read strange and unnatural in such a connexion. And cp. 1 Thessalonians 5:16.

He leads them here above all uncertain and fluctuating reasons for joy, to Him Who is the supreme and unalterable gladness of the believing soul, beneath and above all changes of circumstances and sensation.

Php 4:4. Χαίρετε ἐν Κυρίῳ· πάντοτε, πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαίρετε, rejoice in the Lord: again I say, always rejoice) The particle, again, requires an Epitasis,[52] as in Galatians 1:9, where the Epitasis is in παρελάβετε, comp. Php 4:8; so the Galatians are more strongly bound, because [not only Paul preached, Php 4:8, but] they also received or took up the Gospel which was preached. Add Galatians 5:3, where I testify makes an Epitasis to λέγω, I say, Php 4:2; and παντί, to every man, has an Epitasis to unto you, Php 4:2; and ὀφειλέτης, he is a debtor, to shall profit you nothing, Php 4:2 : here the word, always, forms such an Epitasis with rejoice ye, repeated. At the beginning of the verse, it is said, rejoice ye in the Lord, as ch. Php 3:1. Some join πάντοτε with the preceding words.

[52] See Append.

Verse 4. - Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice; rather, as R.V., again I will say. St. Paul returns to the key-note of the Epistle, Christian joy. He writes again the same things (see Philippians 2:1); he will say it again, he. never wearies of repeating that holy joy is a chief Christian duty. Rejoice in the Lord; in his presence, in communion with him, and that always; for he who rejoices in the Lord, as Chrysostom says, always rejoices, even in affliction: "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10). Philippians 4:4
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