(Vs. 1.) "My brethren," not in the natural sense but in a spiritual sense, having the same Father', being in the same family, of the household of faith.
"My dearly beloved and longed for." Paul sincerely loved these people and longed to be with them, to fellowship and converse with them.
"My joy and my crown." He taught them the gospel and they were seals of his ministry and proof of his call. They were a greater joy and crown to him than anything that the world could offer. The fruits of a man's ministry are his converts and they are the best test of his ministry (Matt. 7:15.20)."Stand fast in the Lord."
1. Stand fast in his power, for even saints are liable to fall (Jude 24).
2. Stand fast in his gospel, which is able to save (1 Cor. 15:1).
3. Stand fast in the liberty of Christ, as opposed to the bondage of the law.
4. Stand fast in the doctrines of Christ (1 Tim. 4:16).
(Vs. 3.) This is evidently addressed to the pastor, who was to assist these women in settling their differences. These women were of valuable aid to Paul, Clement and others. Let us help bring people together, for the unity of the church and the glory of Christ are much more important than personal differences and disputes.
(Vs. 4.) The word "rejoice" is used ten times in this epistle. I pray that we may learn the word in heart and experience as well as in doctrine. There is always cause to rejoice in the Lord! Rejoice in his grace, which is always sufficient. Rejoice in his blood, which cleanses. Rejoice in his righteousness, which justifies. Rejoice in his love, which never fails. Rejoice in his providence, which works all things together for our good. Rejoice in his intercession, which is continual. Rejoice that your names are written in the book of life!
(Vs. 5.) The "moderation" here is not in eating and drinking, though this is certainly important. The word here is "Let all men (both in the church and out) see and recognize your humility, unselfishness, consideration and forgiving spirit."
1. We are to deal with others not with the severity of law and justice, but with gentleness and love (Eph. 4:31,32).
2. We are to put up with affronts and injuries by bearing them patiently and forgivingly.
3. We are to put the best interpretation on words and statements, not seeking cause for offence.
4. Let our Christian attitude adorn our doctrine, for "the Lord is at hand," meaning "he will help you by giving you grace," or "the Lord observes our conduct of spirit," or "the Lord is coming soon to judge all men." All are true.
(Vs. 6.) "Do not fret, murmur, nor be filled with anxiety over things (Ps. 37:1-8). Take your burdens, cares and problems to the Lord in prayer. In everything let your requests be known to .God, and do it with thanksgiving." I can never come to the throne for mercy except I already have mercies for which to be thankful!(Vs. 7.) This "pence of God" is twofold.
1. It is the peace which is made with God by the obedience, sacrifice and intercession of our blessed Lord (Rom. 5:1).
2. It is the peace of heart, mind and conscience which arises from a correct view of Christ. We know that we have passed from death to life; we know that our sins are forgiven; we know that we are sons of God and the peace of God rules in our hearts.
"Passeth understanding." The natural man certainly does not understand this peace and rest which Christ gives. His soul and mind are in a constant state of unrest and turmoil. Neither do we fully understand the blessed peace of God which he in mercy gives us in Christ! We accept it by faith and rest in his promise.
(Vs. 8.) "Finally, brethren." In this matter of attitude and humble spirit, "think on these things!" Meditate on them. Consider and dwell upon them in order to put them into daily practice:
1. "Whatsoever things are true" agreeable to the troth in Christ Jesus, the truth of the gospel and the Word of God.
2. "Whatsoever things are honest" honest in the sight of God and men, honest in business, in speech, in conduct
3. "Whatsoever things are just" giving to God that which is his (worship, praise, reverence, myself) and to man that which is his, avoiding oppression and injustice. Owe no man anything he needs or deserves.
4. "Whatsoever things are pure" pure in word or deed, in opposition to pride, covetousness, hatred, envy and self-seeking.
5. "Whatsoever things are holy" agreeable to the character of God and his kingdom, that which promotes holiness of heart and life.
6. "Whatsoever things are lovely." These are faith, kindness, compassion, generosity and all commendable virtues.
7. "Whatsoever things are of good report" things which contribute to a good name, a good reputation, a good opinion for the glory of Christ.
If anything is virtuous and worthy of praise, think on these things. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he!" (Pov. 4:23).