The Letter To The Philippians, Part 16

Philippians 4:8-9

Let’s begin with intentional reading.

  • Read Philippians 4:8-9 and consider the following:

  1. Did you notice anything in this set of scripture you have never noticed in the Bible before?
  2. Did you read any familiar verses? Which ones?
  3. Were any of the verses you read meaningful to you today? Why?

In the last Bible study, we considered ways that Paul teaches the Philippian church to handle the anxieties of life.  As he continues to teach on overcoming anxious thoughts and worry, Paul focuses his discussion on what we think rather than the circumstances we face.  While it may strike us as odd for Paul to center his discussion here, what Paul knew and what he wants us to know, is that when our thought lives are centered on Jesus, the circumstances of our earthly lives are less overwhelming.

  • Reread Philippians 4:4-7.  In verse 7, what does Paul say is the payoff for rejoicing in all things and surrendering our anxieties through prayer?  What does Paul say the gift of God’s peace does (v.7)?
  • Read Philippians 4:8 then reread it with the context of God’s peace in mind.  How can centering our thought lives on the types of things listed in verse 8 help keep our minds at peace?  What is the connection between a peaceful mind and an anxiety-free mind?

As we have studied in the series on 1 Peter, God wants his people to respond in godliness to the situations, people, and feelings we encounter rather than to react out of fear, anger, or frustration.  Spiritual awareness begins in our minds, and our godly responses to any situation are the result of our thoughts.  Paul knew that our thoughts would drive our speech and actions, and it’s why he so clearly lays out the types of things we are to think about.

  • Can you give an opposite for each adjective on the list in verse 8 (ex: true/false)? What does it do the mind of a believer if we think about the opposites? How could allowing our thoughts to center on the opposites of the list cause us to react rather than to respond?
  • Read Proverbs 4:23, Luke 6:45, Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 3:1-3, and Jeremiah 17:9.  What connection do these verses have with Philippians 4:8?  How does our thought life impact each of these verses?

The verb that Paul uses at the end of verse 8 is translated think in most English versions of the Bible.  For most of us, the verb think can mean anything from a passing thought to serious consideration. It’s this second meaning the Paul had in mind when he chose the Greek word logizomai.   Logizomai – which has the same root as the word logic - lets the Philippian church and us know that Paul intends for the true, noble, lovely, right, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy to be the things that our minds dwell on.  These qualities should also characterize the logic from which believers draw conclusions.

  • What is the difference between casually thinking about something and applying logic to drawing conclusions? Which takes more time? Which is more helpful in responding to a situation, person, or feeling rather than reacting?
  • The New King James version chooses to translate logizomai as meditate. Does the word meditate help you understand the depth of thought Paul is asking believers to spend on the things that are characterized by verse 8?

Living in 21st century America, it would be easy to make excuses why meditating on the pure, noble, lovely, and right is almost impossible.  We are bombarded every day with ideas that are contrary to the Gospel of Christ.  Mainstream media, social media, journals, entertainment sources, and even our own brains present ungodly ideas to us that we have the choice to accept or reject.  In His provision for us, God gave us the power to control our thoughts.

  • Read 2 Corinthians 10:5. What 2 actions does this verse tell believers to take? Using Philippians 4:8 as a standard, how do we know which thoughts need to be taken captive, corrected, and redirected?
  • The first quality listed in Philippians 4:8 is truth.  In our society and with all of the information we are presented with, believers can have a hard time discerning truth.  Does God intend for His people to know the truth through their powers of discernment and wisdom? Read John 16:13. Who will help guide believers to truth? Read James 1:5. Who gives believers wisdom? In what practical ways can believers allow Holy Spirit will guide us to truth and receive God’s wisdom?

Paul ends this section of scripture by telling the Philippians to put into practice the things that they had seen him do and heard him teach.   Paul doesn’t just say to do them, he says that when we do, “the God of peace will be with” us. Paul is reminding his readers that God’s peace is present when our minds are centered on Him. Maintaining spiritual awareness for our thoughts and keeping our thoughts surrendered to Christ is directly connected to receiving God’s peace.  Paul’s point here is not to help us reach peace of mind but to help us have peaceful minds regardless of our external circumstances.

  • Read Philippians 4:4-9 together.  How can prayer, thanksgiving, taking negative thoughts captive, and meditating on Philippians 4:8 things bring us peace?
  • How does having a peaceful mind contribute to serving the Lord? How does having a peaceful mind allow us to respond to the circumstances of our lives rather than react?

Paul’s desire for the Philippian brothers and sisters is that they learn to live in peace.  Through his teaching in verses 4-9, we learn that peace transcends circumstances and is found in surrender to the Lord.  What do you need to surrender to be at peace? What thoughts? What relationships? What situations? God is promising that once you surrender these to Him, His peace is available.  Take your thoughts captive in order to surrender them to God.  Receive a peaceful mind.

Be blessed.  Be a blessing.

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