4. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
4. Gaudete in Domino semper, iterum dico, gaudete.
5. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
5. Moderatio vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus. Dominus prope est.
6. Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.
6. De nulla re sitis solliciti: sed in omnibus, oratione et precatione,
cum gratiarum actione, petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum.
7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall
keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
7. Et pax Dei, quae exsuperat omnem intelligentiam, custodiet corda
vestra et cogitationes vestras in Christo Iesu.
4. Rejoice in the Lord. It is an exhortation suited to the times;
for, as the condition of the pious was exceedingly troublous, and dangers
threatened them on every side, it was possible that they might give way,
overcome by grief or impatience. Hence he enjoins it upon them, that,
amidst circumstances of hostility and disturbance, they should nevertheless
rejoice in the Lord, as assuredly these spiritual consolations, by means
of which the Lord refreshes and gladdens us, ought then most of all to
show their efficacy when the whole world tempts us to despair. Let us,
however, in connection with the circumstances of the times, consider what
efficacy there must have been in this word uttered by the mouth of Paul,
who might have had special occasion of sorrow. For if they are appalled
by persecutions, or imprisonments, or exile, or death, here is the Apostle
setting himself forward, who, amidst imprisonments, in the very heat of
persecution, and in fine, amidst apprehensions of death, is not merely
himself joyful, but even stirs up others to joy. The sum, then, is this—that
come what may, believers, having the Lord standing on their side, have
amply sufficient ground of joy.
The repetition of the exhortation serves to give greater force to it:
Let this be your strength and stability, to rejoice in the Lord, and that,
too, not for a moment merely, but so that your joy in him may be perpetuated.
For unquestionably it differs from the joy of the world in this respect
- that we know from experience that the joy of the world is deceptive,
frail, and fading, and Christ even pronounces it to be accursed (Luke 6:25).
Hence, that only is a settled joy in God which is such as is never taken
away from us.
5. Your moderation. This may be explained in two ways. We may
understand him as bidding them rather give up their right, than that any
one should have occasion to complain of their sharpness or severity. “Let
all that have to deal with you have experience of your equity and humanity.” In
this way to know, will mean to experience. Or we may understand him as
exhorting them to endure all things with equanimity. This latter meaning
I rather prefer; for to epieikev is a
term that is made use of by the Greeks themselves to denote moderation
of spirit—when we are not easily moved by injuries, when we are not easily
annoyed by adversity, but retain equanimity of temper. In accordance with
this, Cicero makes use of the following expression,— “My mind is tranquil,
which takes everything in good part.” Such equanimity—which is as it were
the mother of patience —he requires here on the part of the Philippians,
and, indeed, such as will manifest itself to all, according as occasion
will require, by producing its proper effects. The term modesty does not
seem appropriate here, because Paul is not in this passage cautioning them
against haughty insolence, but directs them to conduct themselves peaceably
in everything, and exercise control over themselves, even in the endurance
of injuries or inconveniences.
The Lord is at hand. Here we have an anticipation, by which he
obviates an objection that might be brought forward. For carnal sense rises
in opposition to the foregoing statement. For as the rage of the wicked
is the more inflamed in proportion to our mildness, and the more they see
us prepared for enduring, are they more emboldened to inflict injuries,
we are with difficulty induced to possess our souls in patience. (Luke
21:19.) Hence those proverbs,— “We must howl when among wolves.” “Those
who act like sheep will quickly be devoured by wolves.” Hence we
conclude, that the ferocity of the wicked must be repressed by corresponding
violence, that they may not insult us with impunity. To such considerations
Paul here opposes confidence in Divine providence. He replies, I
say, that the Lord is at hand, whose power can overcome their audacity,
and whose goodness can conquer their malice. He promises that he will aid
us, provided we obey his commandment. Now, who would not rather be protected
by the hand of God alone, than have all the resources of the world at his
Here we have a most beautiful sentiment, from which we learn, in the
first place, that ignorance of the providence of God is the cause of all
impatience, and that this is the reason why we are so quickly, and on trivial
accounts, thrown into confusion, and often, too, become disheartened because
we do not recognize the fact that the Lord cares for us. On the other hand,
we learn that this is the only remedy for tranquillizing our minds—when
we repose unreservedly in his providential care, as knowing that we are
not exposed either to the rashness of fortune, or to the caprice of the
wicked, but are under the regulation of God’s fatherly care. In fine, the
man that is in possession of this truth, that God is present with him,
has what he may rest upon with security.
There are, however, two ways in which the Lord is said to be at hand—either
because his judgment is at hand, or because he is prepared to give help
to his own people, in which sense it is made use of here; and also in Psalm
145:18, The Lord is near to all that call upon him. The meaning therefore
is,— “Miserable were the condition of the pious, if the Lord were at a
distance from them.” But as he has received them under his protection
and guardianship, and defends them by his hand, which is everywhere present,
let them rest upon this consideration, that they may not be intimidated
by the rage of the wicked. It is well known, and matter of common occurrence,
that the term solicitudo (carefulness) is employed to denote that
anxiety which proceeds from distrust of Divine power or help.
6. But in all things. It is the singular number that is made
use of by Paul, but is the neuter gender; the expression, therefore, is
equivalent to omni negotio, (in every matter,) for (prayer) and (supplication)
are feminine nouns. In these words he exhorts the Philippians, as
David does all the pious in Psalm 55:22, and Peter also in 1 Peter 5:7,
to cast all their care upon the Lord. For we are not made of iron, so as
not to be shaken by temptations. But this is our consolation, this
is our solace —to deposit, or (to speak with greater propriety) to disburden
in the bosom of God everything that harasses us. Confidence, it is true,
brings tranquil!ity to our minds, but it is only in the event of our exercising
ourselves in prayers. Whenever, therefore, we are assailed by any
temptation, let us betake ourselves forthwith to prayer, as to a sacred
The term requests he employs here to denote desires or wishes. He would
have us make these known to God by prayer and supplication, as though believers
poured forth their hearts before God, when they commit themselves, and
all that they have, to Him. Those, indeed, who look hither and thither
to the vain comforts of the world, may appear to be in some degree relieved;
but there is one sure refuge—leaning upon the Lord.
With thanksgiving. As many often pray to God amiss, full
of complaints or of murmurings, as though they had just ground for accusing
him, while others cannot brook delay, if he does not immediately gratify
their desires, Paul on this account conjoins thanksgiving with prayers.
It is as though he had said, that those things which are necessary for
us ought to be desired by us from the Lord in such a way, that we, nevertheless,
subject our affections to his good pleasure, and give thanks while presenting
petitions. And, unquestionably, gratitude will have this effect upon
us—that the will of God will be the grand sum of our desires.
7. And the peace of God. Some, by turning the future tense into
the optative mood, convert this statement into a prayer, but it is without
proper foundation. For it is a promise in which he points out the
advantage of a firm confidence in God, and invocation of him. “If
you do that,” says he, “the peace of God will keep your minds and hearts.”
Scripture is accustomed to divide the soul of man, as to its frailties,
into two parts—the mind and the heart. The mind means the understanding,
while the heart denotes all the disposition or inclinations. These
two terms, therefore, include the entire soul, in this sense,— “The peace
of God will guard you, so as to prevent you from turning back from God
in wicked thoughts or desires.”
It is on good ground that he calls it the peace of God, inasmuch as
it does not depend on the present aspect of things, and does not bend itself
to the various shiftings of the world, but is founded on the firm and immutable
word of God. It is on good grounds, also, that he speaks of it as
surpassing all understanding or perception, for nothing is more foreign
to the human mind, than in the depth of despair to exercise, nevertheless,
a feeling of hope, in the depth of poverty to see opulence, and in the
depth of weakness to keep from giving way, and, in fine, to promise ourselves
that nothing will be wanting to us when we are left destitute of all things;
and all this in the grace of God alone, which is not itself known otherwise
than through the word, and the inward earnest of the Spirit.