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HOW TO SAY "THANK YOU"

... AS TAUGHT BY THE APOSTLE PAUL!

A VERSE-BY-VERSE EXPOSITION OF PHILIPPIANS 4:10-20, PAUL'S GREAT "THANK YOU" NOTE!

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

"But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Philippians 4:10-20

 

LESSON 1, VERSE 10:

It is so important that we be thankful.

Paul commanded in 1st Thessalonians 5:18, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Books have been written, lectures given, theories postulated, all dedicated to the science of expressing genuine appreciation.

But, really, for the Christian, the Bible is the Final Authority on such things. Is there a Text of Scripture that teaches us how to properly give thanks?

In fact, there just may be!

The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:10-20, sets for us an example. A Holy Spirit inspired Paragraph concerning gratefulness.

Now, mind you, these Verses are not a "how-to-do-it" Manual. They record the Apostle's words as he received an actual gift, something from the Philippians! Paul, currently in a Roman prison, explodes into a spirit of praise!

This is perhaps the Bible's greatest Passage on our subject. It's a perfect "thank you" letter. It can indeed become our model for giving thanks.

Since Paul, humanly speaking, wrote Philippians, we can expect no short platitudes. He will take his time, reasoning carefully as guided by the Spirit of God, thoroughly exploring his grateful heart.

How grateful each of us should be for this fourth chapter of Philippians!

The only possible way to explore this Material is to begin and proceed verse by verse.

Let's get started.

"But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity." Philippians 4:10

The first thing to notice is that this gift's arrival, whatever it may have been, triggered in Paul's heart great rejoicing in the Lord! To "rejoice," using "chairo" as its Greek foundation, means "to be cheerful!" To be glad! Of its 74 New Testament appearances, 62 deal one way or another with joy or gladness. The remaining 12 indicate some kind or greeting or farewell, a "God speed" kind of thing.

The adverb "greatly" is "megalos." The whole "mega" stem in Greek means "big or large or great." Paul is really glad for the gift! But his first response is "to the Lord!" Even though God sent the gift through the hands of others, our first focus is the real Giver, our Heavenly Father! "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17

The words "now at the last" translate "ede pote," a Greek expression linking the immediate present with the indefinite past. Apparently it had been quite some time since the Philippians had last communicated with Paul. The Apostle is not blaming them of course. Circumstances had rendered such giving nearly impossible.

The noun "care" is a form of "phroneo," meaning "to think" about someone, to have them on one's mind. No gift is ever given without forethought, is it? The verb "flourished" is interesting. "Anathallo" is borrowed from the gardener's plot, "to blossom, to sprout, to shoot up" as a plant or flower does! It is only  used here in all of Scripture. Likely the basic meaning of "thallo" is "to flourish or revive!"

A second use of "phroneo," as in "ye were careful," might suggest that the Philippians had been wanting to do something for Paul, keeping him in their minds and on their hearts, but had just now achieved their goal.

Paul tactfully gives them an excuse, gracious man that he is! "Ye lacked opportunity," he writes. Here "akairos" is the word, having no season or no window of time in which to help! We are again dealing with another "one time only" word. It's technically called a "hapax legomenon."

Paul's travels, dangers, changing plans, and battles with the devil rendered his schedule quite unpredictable. No itinerary was published!

This Verse alone, "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity," certainly reveals a kind and thoughtful Preacher. One who is determined to glorify God for every blessing! One determined to set every gift in a lovely verbal context, like "apples of gold in pictures of silver!" And one resolved not to hurt anyone's feelings if at all possible!

How to say "thank you!"

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 11:

The word is "content."

I can only find three times that Paul used the word.

"And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." 1st Timothy 6:8 teaches us.

"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5 adds.

Then our Text here in Philippians 4:11. "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

This Greek word, "autarkes," blends "autos," meaning "oneself," and "arkeo," meaning "to be satisfied, to have enough." It presents the idea of "self-sufficiency" really. But Paul does not mean it in a vain or proud way.

In whatever condition Paul was found, "en hos eimi," no matter what God allowed to come his way, this great Preacher was resolved to be satisfied!

This is so important in the Christian life. Especially in today's materialistic culture! Paul blatantly proclaimed in Colossians 3:5 that covetousness was a form of idolatry!

Be content!

But lessons in contentment might not come easily. Even Paul had to "learn" them! "Manthano," related to "matheo," means "to understand" or "to acquire knowledge." It is obviously related to the Greek word for "disciple," the noun "mathetes." The aorist tense here compiles all Paul's previous Christian living into a single point of achievement, specifically dealing with contentment.

In this Verse Paul also uses a clause each of us needs to practice, "Not that I speak in respect of want." The verb "speak" is a present tense form of "lego," choosing carefully what one is to say. The noun "want" is spelled "husteresis." It really comes from a word chain that means to be "behind," then to be "later" and finally from "hupo," to be "under!"

Paul is determined not to always be talking about his needs! What my folks used to call "poor-mouthing" every situation in life! To speak to Paul at any given time, one would not immediately be able to discern his needs! He would be so thrilled with Jesus and the Cross and the empty Tomb that anything personal would have long since dimmed into the background!

No "prayer letters" from Paul would have listed his fifteen most pressing needs! Those thoughts would have been reserved for the Lord!

And keep in mind here the general "context" of Philippians 4:11. It sits at the beginning of a "Thank You" note! That's exactly what this whole eleven-verse Paragraph is, Philippians 4:10-20.

"Thank you for the gifts," Paul is essentially saying. "But I was content even before they arrived!" This whole line of thought sounds a little strange to modern ears!

We might rather imply, "Thank you! Keep it coming please!"

But to Paul, always, spiritual growth was more important than financial bounty! We are reading after a spiritual giant in the faith!

It's almost as if Paul was hesitant to write anything that would address itself merely to his single situation historically! Perhaps he knew that some day his letters would be part of the precious Word of God! Applicable to all men and women everywhere!

Is he grateful to the Philippians for their support?

Yes!

But does he fervently seek to exalt God to an higher level than any of his financial helpers?

Certainly!

God is God ... whatever the outward circumstances!

Whatever He supplies is sufficient!

That's the spirit in which Jesus lived too! Make that "Spirit," with a capital letter.

Even after forty days of fasting and temptation in the wilderness, Jesus would not get ahead of His Father's daily provision! Not even to create a piece of bread! God would feed His Son in good time!

And I assure you, The Father did not fail His Child!

Neither will He fail us yet today!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 12:

It's almost as if Paul forgets the audience to whom he is writing. He at times seems to be looking ahead, addressing some unseen throng! A future "cloud of witnesses!"

Personally I think that's exactly the case!

In Philippians 4:10-20 Paul is actually penning what we would call a "thank you" note, a letter of appreciation. The Church in Philippi has send a gift to Paul. And he, being in a Roman prison, had untold needs no doubt!

His thankful attitude is certainly understandable.

However, saying "thank you" is one thing, but digressing into comments like this is quite another thing: "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." Philippians 4:12

It appears that Paul is writing to a yet future group! The saints of all the ages! Those of us who well might face similar circumstances. The Gospel has reached people of every financial background and social status, in all kinds of political environments too! Not a few of whom have been in prison or in dire need! Then of course, as in places today, may living lives of comparative luxury also!

So Paul, ever the Teacher as well as Pastor and Encourager, writes to the unseen, instructing us economically! What he says in our Verse today is better than anything any financial adviser ever postulated! Karl Marx or Allen Greenspan or your local banker included!

Say it again, Paul: "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

In other words, thank you for the gift, dear Philippians! But I didn't have to have it! I could have continued without such a thing! My God in Heaven is my Source of comfort, my daily Supply! Whatever He allows my way makes me happy, be it little or much!

The verb "know" Paul uses is "oida" and refers, not to laboriously acquired data, but to information God has implanted in one's heart! Inherent truth! Holy Spirit imparted! This is not book learning here! This is Spirit taught wisdom!

The verb "abased" is really the New Testament word for "humbled." In other words, "to be made low!" As in, "Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." 2nd Corinthians 11:25-27

The contrasting verb, "abound," is spelled "perisseuo." It means "to increase, to exceed, to overflow!" A typical word picture here would be a little flower as it develops from a newly sprouted shoot to a budded plant to a fully blooming specimen of beauty! For a while in the early history of the Philippian Church Paul and his traveling companions stayed in the home of the first covert in the city! A lady named Lydia, wealthy! A seller of purple! The environment there must have been lavish! "And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us." Acts 16:15 shows Paul "abounding" for a short while!

Now look at the verb "instructed," in Greek "mueo." It is based on the noun "mysterion," our word "mystery!" It means "taught" or even "initiated" into some set of secrets! These are rather exclusive truths imparted to those who follow the Lord whole-heartedly! Every Christian in America today has not learned to be content in each situation life brings! We grumble and complain at some things and overly rejoice in the shallowness of others! "My team won! Can you believe it?"

"I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

Repeating the cycle, Paul uses the adjectives "full" and "hungry." Now "chortazo" means "to be fed with herbs!" Made "fat," but here technically vegetarian style! No meat! However, this very word is used repeatedly in the Gospel accounts of the feeding of the thousands, so it can include eating fish for sure! "To be hungry" translates "peinao," meaning a "craving" for food! The Greek word for poor, one of them anyway, is "penes."

Ending the verse, "to abound" is a present infinitive, using the "perisseuo" stem again. That which exceeds, overflows,  exists in abundance! So much of something that it's all "around" you! "Peri" equals "around." Plenty!

Then "to suffer need" is "hustereo." It just means "to come behind." To be "tardy!" To "fall back" or even to be "inferior!"

What a range of emotions!

What a plethora of financial conditions!

Yet not one word of dissatisfaction!

Just a simple "thank you!"

No wonder this is the setting for one of the greatest Verses in the Bible. "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Amen!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 13:

It's one of the most quoted Verses in the whole New Testament! Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13

But what we need to remember is that these words are not written in a vacuum. The setting, the context, the environment in which they are placed is so important.

Precisely, Paul here is NOT talking about slaying giants! That was David. He is NOT talking about praying fire from Heaven! That was Elijah. He is not talking about making the sun stand still! Joshua prayed that prayer. He is not talking about slaying a thousand men with some wild animal's jawbone either! That was Samson.

Paul, again using the exact meaning of these great words, is talking about being able to face any circumstance of life! Especially financially and materially hard times!

After all, he has just written, "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again .... Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." Good or bad, Paul will trust the Lord! In plenty or in poverty! The major craving in Paul's life will be the Lord! Not material goods!

Then, and only then, is Paul prepared to declare, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Amen!

It makes a difference when we study the Bible in its proper setting. The words mean more to us!

Now I do not question the fact that Philippians 4:13 has been a source of great help to God's children through the ages, help in every one of life's many circumstances!

There's nothing necessarily wrong with reading the Verse this way, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Take these words and go out and live for Jesus! Remove mountains! Climb obstacles! Chase devils! Experience what Daniel called "great exploits" for God!

But do remember that it's helpful also to not grumble the next time an unexpected bill comes in the mail!

And keep in mind that your tithes and offerings to God can still be given, the remaining amount somehow being sufficient to take care of the everyday issues of life!

And try to overcome any tendencies toward discouragement or depression that being consistently "broke" or "peniless" might induce!

After all, if Paul could ... so can we!

We too can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us!

The verb "can do" translates "ischuo," meaning "to be strong or to have power!" It is probably derived from the root verb "echo," meaning "I have or I hold!" A determined willingness to be persistent and tenacious! This is an "I will not quit" kind of thing!

Paul, with all his human might and the added boost of God's Strength is going to prevail! He will survive any financial situation that comes his way!

"All things" is "panta" in Greek. It's just a little adjective serving here as a substantive. It allows no exceptions! Nothing is outside the perimeter of Paul's resolve! He already knows what it is to be hungry and thirsty and cold! God took care of him then! Why not now? God is faithful we know!

But the Avenue through which Paul can be so strong is not his psychological power or rabbinical upbringing or strong will!

No!

This ability comes "through Christ!"

Using a dative case singular noun, "Christos," a Proper Noun too, Paul is teaching us that his determination, his contentment, his peace come from the Lord!

But, again technically and grammatically, he is also saying that he can do all these things "to" or "for" Christ! That's what the dative case really means!

Paul will not grumble when the money is low! And he will do so for Jesus' sake! He will live unto the Lord Jesus Christ!

He will stay sweet for His Lord!

Yes, any way you take this Verse, it must be finally allowed to glorify Jesus! Much like Paul's great words "by the grace of God I am what I am" do!

The next time my needs are especially great, I surely must remember Philippians 4:14. I too can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Oh, by the way, that last verb, "strengtheneth" is important too. It is "endunamoo." You can almost see the English noun "dynamo" in it, a great source of strength.

"Dunamis," the noun behind all this, means "force!" The prefix "en" means "within" one's own heart or life!

God takes His Strength and gives it, a portion thereof, to each of His children day by day! Even to this degree, "the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His Own right hand in the heavenly places." Paul just said that we have within us the very Power that raised Christ from the grave!

That's amazing!  

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 14:

It's amazing!

In Paul's great "Thank You" note, Philippians 4:10-20, he really never uses those very words!

Here's as close as he gets: "Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction." Philippians 4:14

The great Apostle praises the Philippians and their generosity.

In presenting their offering to Paul the prisoner, the Philippians are said to have "done well."

The verb "to do" is in Greek "poieo," meaning "to construct, fashion, form or make" something. In this little word see the English nouns "poet" and "poem." Something created that is lovely, beautiful, even artistic!

Since the gift in focus came sometime in the past, prior to Paul's writing, the aorist tense is employed here. To the same degree they gave, they did well!

The adverb "well" is spelled "kalos," meaning "rightly, correctly, beautifully, excellently!"

The gift they sent to Paul constituted a work of art in God's Eyes!

How did the Philippians so gain Paul's admiration and approval? "Ye did communicate with my affliction."

The verb "communicate" is "sugkoinoneo." It means "to share, to help, to take part in, to contribute!" To give to a cause! The prefix "sug," which is just an assimilated "sun," means "with" others! There were no single heroes in this offering, just a bunch of godly saints sharing out of their own poverty! Everyone wanting to help!

And the noun "affliction," in Greek "thlipsis," means "pressure!" As in pressing grapes for the harvest! The root verb here, "tribo," means to rub something so vigorously that it is pulverized!

Paul was in a place of great pressure!

And the Philippians, who loved him so much, wanted to help their Preacher during his hard time!

Herein Paul is thanking them!

What praise he offers!

"Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction." Philippians 4:14

A Christian likes those words, "well done!"

We all long for the day when Jesus our Lord will say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." Matthew 25:21

Helping the Preacher, the Man of God!

I would love to some day hear those very words from our dear Saviour, "Well done!"

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSE 15:

It's somewhat like a corporate financial report, maybe one of those quarterly things.

But for a very small business.

Only one man is on this payroll!

Paul the Apostle, writing to the Philippian Church, says: "Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only."

The nouns "giving" and "receiving" are each rare New Testament financial terms. "Credit" and "debit" are today's corresponding expressions. "Giving" is spelled "dosis," and relates to the basic verb "didomai." While "receiving" is "lempsis," also linked to a major verb, "lambano."

The verb "communicated" is "koinoneo," sharing something in common! It's the usual verb for giving by one person to another.

The proper noun "Philippians" is interesting. It blends the verb "philos," being "fond" of something, and "hippos," merely meaning "horses!" A lover of horses! Remember too that "Philadelphia" means "lover of the brethren," using our same suffix here. Philippi is located in what I'd call northern Greece, but technically was labeled as part of Macedonia.

The noun "beginning" translates "arche," meaning "chief or first" or even "commencement." The starting place!

The "beginning of the Gospel" in Philippi is recorded in Acts 16. There by a riverside Lydia was saved. Then the jailer and his whole household and eventually a Church was begun!

As Paul left there, under pressure too, it appears that the newly formed Philippian assembly gave him financial support! Maybe even sending to him several times as he traveled.

To "depart," in Greek "exerchomai," simply means "to go out." Traveling elsewhere to preach the Word of God!

This Verse presents us with some astounding information! Apparently when Paul left the Antioch Church, back in Acts 13, all they sent along was well-wishes! Nor did any other Church back Paul with material giving!

While other Churches eventually helped, at least some, the Philippian saints were the pioneering financiers of Paul's travels!

Paul is letting the Church know how very much he appreciated those gifts of love!

In writing Verse 15, Paul is doing at least three things. Firstly, he is keeping his supporters informed! Next, he is reminding them of their exclusivity. They are unique, therefore most valuable to Paul in his work for the Lord! Thirdly, the Apostle lovingly mentions the history the Philippians share with the Man of God! Sweet memories bind hearts together!

Notice what he did not do! He did not send a "wish" list! He did not ask for more money! He did not try to present himself as some big, successful Preacher! He attempted no mass mailings either!

Just a simple "Thank You" letter!

How lovely!

How meaningful!

How effective!

By the way, many of you who are studying with us here today pray for the Bagwells too! And some have even given financially to help during these difficult days medically. To you all, we say a heart-felt genuine "Thank You," from the depths of our hearts!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, VERSE 16:

It's a strange situation in the life of Paul!

Hard to explain.

He absolutely refused financial help from the Corinthians, but readily accepted it from the Philippians!

Here's proof, at least concerning the Corinthians. "I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you." In other words Paul is saying that he has not taken any of their money! He is not interested in what they possess! 1st Corinthians 12:14

Also he writes, "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man!" 2nd Corinthians 11:8-9

Yet to the Philippians clearly states, "For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity." Philippians 4:16

Of course the time-line is important here. Paul's relationship with the Philippians predates his ever traveling to Corinth. But even at the end of his powerful and fruitful life, a unique ministry for sure, he still had not accepted anything from the one Church, but plenty from the other!

Why?

Probably because of some things that had been said at Corinth. It appears that he might have been accused of financial dishonesty! Not by the spiritual folks at Corinth, in that Church. But by his enemies, false apostles who followed him nearly everywhere, stirring up trouble and slinging insinuations against the Man of God.

Here are some of their "slurs" against Paul. "For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible."

Again, they accused him making a "profit" in their midst! Being a "money-grabber!" But such was not true. "Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?" The verb "make gain" is once translated "defraud" in the King James Text. "I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you?" Paul was innocent of the charge! In fact, the opposite was true. Paul was receiving a collection for the poor folks in Jerusalem, suffering saints there! "For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem." Romans 15:26 here, when added to 1st Corinthians 16:2, illustrate. "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."

In light of such gossip and confusion, Paul just refuses any of their financial support! It would have been tainted. Yet he staunchly defended a preacher's right to receive funds, "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward." 1st Timothy 5:18

Even more, according to Paul, some preachers are due "double pay!" Read it. "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine."

But Paul took nothing, at Corinth!

Conversely, thank God for the Philippians!

No such slander there, not in that loving Church!

They gave and Paul received, gratefully!

Again, today's Verse: "For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity." Philippians 4:16

Paul first went to Thessalonica in Acts 17:1, "Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica." He had just been serving in Philippi in Acts 16:11-40. "Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; and from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days." See their chronological proximity? This "support" came as soon as Paul left those generous Philippians!

"For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity."

Less than a hundred miles from Philippi, Thessalonica became Paul's next place of labor! But there he apparently did not have to make tents in order to pay the bills! Financial help arrived, more than once, from Philippi!

That Church had some rather affluent members apparently, Lydia the "seller of purple" being one of them! And they shared with Paul part of God's bounty in their lives!

The verb "send" is rather strong too! "Pempo" in the King James Bible is translated "thrust" twice! They insisted Paul receive their help!

"One and again" is a lovely phrase, "kai hapax kai dis." Really "both once and twice" it means.  And Paul was only in Thessalonica two or three weeks! "They came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures." Acts 17:1-2

Two love offerings from the Philippians in just a short period of time, fifteen to twenty-one days.

The word "necessity" is powerful as well! "Chreia" means "what one is lacking," his very "essential needs!" These would have been the very basic requirements for Brother Paul, not really a man of luxury!

Paul is here acknowledging their gifts and thanking them appropriately, out of a grateful heart!

After all, he is the one who wrote, "In every thing give thanks."

All this certainly should make each of us to be ... much more grateful!

Amen, let it be so!

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

P. S. --- I once heard a faithful Evangelist make this statement. This is not a direct quote, but close to it. He suggested that to the same degree a Church experiences real Revival in their midst, they will give accordingly to the Men of God!

That theory has cyclical implications. It's reciprocal. Stingy people seldom have real Revivals! Yet still, when a genuine stirring from God does come, the love offering will be amazingly generous!

Personally I think that dear Preacher was right!

 

 

LESSON 8, VERSE 17:

It's one of my favorite Verses, especially when thanking folks for their kindness and generosity. Paul wrote it in his great "Thank You" note to the Philippian Church.

"Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account." Philippians 4:17

Paul never solicited gifts! He never mailed a prayer letter, at least in the sense of enumerating different needs and wants his ministry might have been experiencing!

The verb "desire" is a translation of "epizeteo" in Greek. It means "to seek, to wish, to crave" something, intensely so!

Paul was content even before that dear Philippian delegation arrived with their precious cargo!

The noun "gift" is "doma," a derivative of the verb "didomi," to give. Our word, found only four times in the Bible, is three times used of either the Holy Spirit Himself or of some specific spiritual gift bestowed upon us by the risen Christ! Only in Paul and only here do we find a material expression assigned to the word. And even so Paul transfers it into a spiritual symbol!

Yet while Paul did not long for material goods, he did hunger to see fruit in the lives of his converts. Again our Verse, "Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account."

The Verse's second use of "desire" is identical to the first occurrence. Even down to the the verb's tense and mood and voice and person and number! Paul literally "craved" spiritual growth, maturity, in his spiritual children.

The noun "fruit" is "karpos," and means "produce or grain" literally but also "harvest and reward and gain" metaphorically.

Paul got excited when folks gave him things, ironically, because they would be rewarded by the Lord for such unselfish action!

"Abounding" fruit is good too! "Pleonazo" means "present in abundance, more and more!" Here a present participle, the fruit is being described.

And then Paul uses a banker's term, "account." It is "logos," carrying the idea of logic and choice and precision.

Eternal rewards some day ... for gifts given now!

Amazing!

"He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." Matthew 10:41-42

No one has ever yet given to the cause of Christ without our Lord's knowledge!

And such giving does bear fruit!

"But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly." Matthew 6:3-4

Jesus promised!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

P. S. --- Paul's strong desire that the Philippians earn future rewards for their sweet generosity is quite impressive. It's also very similar to a concept he shared elsewhere in his writings, his "corpus." Listen. "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works." In Hebrews 10:24 Paul uses "katanoeo," to think and ponder and meditate," for the main verb, "consider." It's intensive too! And the verb "provoke" is "to incite!" It's "paroxusmos." Literally it implies a "sharp" impetus! A powerful dynamic! "Love" is "agape" of course, the deepest and most unselfish of all Bible loves. And "good works," in Greek "kalos ergon," also will not go unnoticed! In Philippians Paul tempts his converts to remain unselfish! In Hebrews, to lovingly pursue good works! Both acts bring crowns in Glory, rewards for faithfulness! At the Judgment Seat of Christ!

 

 

LESSON 9, VERSE 18:

In any "Thank You" letter the item or items received should be mentioned, either directly or indirectly. Paul the Apostle does this in a unique way in his great letter of appreciation, Philippians 4:10-20.

"But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God." Philippians 4:18

The Verse tells us several things about the support Philippi had sent to Paul. We now know who brought the gift or gifts. "Epaphroditus" did, a member of the Philippian Church. He was saved out of a heathen background, his name even meaning "belonging to Aphrodite," the Roman goddess Venus. The name of the goddess itself however suggests "loveliness." Most of the people in Paul's Churches were gentiles with sinful wretched lives, until Jesus redeemed them. Based on Philippians 2:25 this same Epaphroditus also ferried the completed Epistle of Philippians back to the Macedonian city. Thank God for him!

Also our Verse today acknowledges Paul's receipt of the love offering. "But I have all" reads in Greek "apecho de panta." It is a formula of that ancient day which means something like this, "received in full." It's nearly a business term, an accountant's phrase. However, the verb itself, "apecho," means in a grammatical sense, "to hold off, to hold away" or even "to hold back" from something! Paul might also be saying that he appreciates the gift and is going to use it sparingly, making it last a long time! Not getting used to such luxury! Still living a disciplined hard lifestyle! The word is just a blend of "apo" and "echo," a prefix/preposition and a major verb.

The accompanying verb "abound" is "perisseuo" and means "to have an abundance, to be overflowing!" Its prefix, "peri" means "all around" you! The gifts are everywhere! The Philippians have done well!

Then Paul says, "I am full." Here "pleroo" is an indicative perfect passive verb. Paul has been blessed by others, the Philippians. And these gifts will be a constant source of encouragement for the rest of his life, if not literally then spiritually, in Paul's memory. Long after the money, or whatever, has been spent ... the thoughtfulness and kindness and love will linger!

The verb "received" also is interesting. "Dechomai" means "to take with the hand." This term suggests excitement and delight at the gift's arrival! No false modesty here! Paul was glad to accept these things!

Now Paul is going to "list" the gifts, but he does so symbolically. Either that, or the Philippians sent him a bottle of fragrance! Read, "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable," that's the description! The noun "odor," in Greek  "osme," is from the verb "ozo," meaning "to scent" and often but not here, "to stink." Then "sweet smell," one word in Greek, "euodia," means "good" (the "eu" prefix) "fragrance" (again "ozo"), Paul thereby reversing any negative connotations in his language.

In God's Nostrils, this gift and love offering smell good! Paul uses this analogy, that of fragrance, several times in His Epistles.

Furthermore, the things received are a "sacrifice" unto the Lord! "Thusia" is a dramatic word, "thuo" meaning "to breathe hard, to rush, to slaughter!" Its a word picture of an innocent, dying  little lamb! The adjective "acceptable" is spelled "dektos," something "approved" of God. Related to "dechomai," it means "favorably regarded!"

The things Epaphroditus brought equal a literal "sacrifice" in God's Eyes! They are that valuable! And costly! And pure and clean! Paul occasionally spiritualizes sacrifices this way. For example, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Romans 12:1

Then the final adjective, "wellpleasing" utilizes "euarestos," again meaning "good or well" (the little prefix "eu") and "proper, fitting, suitable" (in Greek, "arestos"), smiled upon by God! The term even suggests a person's "striving to please" another! A deliberate attempt to show oneself "approved" unto God and His Preacher!

This is one beautiful Verse.

It contains a wealth of information on "how to say thank you" when someone has been kind!

By the way, if you keep wondering why I say "gifts" or "gift and offering" in reference to the Philippians' good deeds, the pronoun "things" in "the things which were sent from you," is "ho," a neuter plural adjective! A bunch of gifts apparently! Maybe a whole basket full!

No telling what was in Paul's bag of gifts from the new Christians of Philippi!

Let's remember the words of our Lord. "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." Luke 6:38

It is true indeed!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10, VERSE 19:

For such a relatively short Paragraph, Philippians 4:10-20 contains two "classic" Verses of Scripture!

The easily memorized "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" is near the beginning of the Text and "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" near the end! These are Verses 13 and 19 respectively.

What we too often forget is the plain fact that both Verses occur in a context of gratefulness! They are integral to Paul's great "Thank You" note to the Philippian Church.

The "all things" which Paul can "do" center primarily on his being able to handle the financial "ups" and the "downs" of life as a Preacher of the Gospel! He can continue with no funds or with extra funds, either way! Through Christ Jesus Who strengthens him!

Likewise, Verse 19 must "fit" into that same mold. I am not sure Paul is here giving a "blank check" to every Christian, spiritual or carnal! In fact, it's sure that he is NOT doing so!

This great promise is for those who have been generous and unselfish and kind to the Man of God! Who have given to the cause of Christ! Who are genuinely living their faith!

To them Paul relays a promise from Heaven. "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

In other words, "You folks have been so good to me, giving to meet the needs of our preaching tour! Our great God will in turn meet your needs as well! You will reap what you have sown! Your generosity will be repaid! Maybe a hundred-fold!"

A selfish plutocrat need not claim these words, whatever his doctrinal stand might be! He might fare quite well at the Stock Market, but not so at the Judgment Seat!

The verb "shall supply" is spelled "pleroo" in Greek. It means "to fill up completely!" To the "brim!" As a promise, this verb is future active in the indicative mood! It is simply stating a fact! These people financially helped Paul ... God will help them! They literally obeyed Jesus' words in Matthew 10:41. "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward." Amen!

Here's how God repays, "good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over!" Luke 6:38

"Need," a noun, is "chreia" and is derived from the verb "chraomai," meaning "to receive a loan." In the King James Bible it often represents the idea of "necessity." Also notice that "all" one's needs are said to be met! That's "every one!" The whole lot! Absolutely! No exceptions! Such are the implications of the adjective "pas."

This "supply" is based on quite a "Bank" as well! The Bank of Heaven! It will be met "according to God's Own riches in glory by Christ Jesus." That's what Paul says here!

God's supply to His generous saints come via the means of the Lord Jesus Christ. The preposition "by" as in the phrase "by Christ Jesus" is simply spelled "en." When used with a dative object as here, it means "in, on, at, near, by, before, among, within or with!" It is a preposition that possesses vast range. Jesus is the very Heart of our sustenance! He is our portion! We are properly and completely supplied because of Him! In Colossians 2:10 Paul reminds us that "We are complete in Him." He is our sufficiency! Like a little unborn baby who finds his very existence dependent on his Mom's feminine body, she being wonderfully created by God ... so we who are "in" Christ Jesus "live, and move, and have our being!" Acts 17:28

Wow!

The phrase "according to" translates "kata" in Greek. It literally means "down from!" Every need we have, every item, every meal, every dollar, ultimately comes "down from" our Father above! That's exactly what James says! "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17

Then the noun "riches," or "ploutos," means "wealth." Usually "external possessions." It is derived from the verb "pletho," that is, "to be filled completely!"

These are the "riches" of God however! It says "His riches!" He owns "the cattle on a thousand hills" says Psalm 50:10. And don't forget this little divine acquisition: "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts." Haggai 2:8

What a plethora of promises!

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

If we give, God gives!

Many reading here today already experientially know this to be true!

Others, perhaps newer to the Faith, must begin obeying this precept now!

The spirit of giving, with the Lord anyway, always leads to our needing to learn the spirit of receiving!

He will repay!

You just can't give to His Cause, without Him returning the favor!

Maybe materially, maybe spiritually!

Maybe positively, what He sends you ... or maybe negatively, what He keeps from coming your way!

Maybe today, maybe tomorrow!

Maybe in this life, but for sure in eternity!

God will reward your generosity!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 P. S. --- To those who read here today who have been so kind to the Bagwell family and our work for the Lord Jesus, thank you sincerely! May He reward you beyond measure! We claim Philippians 4:19 on your behalf!

 

 

LESSON 11, VERSE 20:

When someone reads Paul's great "Thank You" Text, Philippians 4:10-20, he or she might have trouble discerning exactly who is being thanked!

Who gave this gift, these gifts really?

Are they from the Lord?

Or from the Philippians?

Truth be told, Paul thanks both the Philippians and the Lord!

He sees these provisions as initially from God ... then through the hands of the Philippian Believers ... finally into a Roman jail cell where the great Apostle is being held!

Here's how this great pericope started, back in Verse 10: "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again." God first, then the saints in the Philippian Church!

Then the ending, Philippians 4:19-20, "But my God shall supply all your need. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever." Notice that the order is reversed! "Your need" refers to the givers, the Philippians. "God and our Father," is the Triune Lord Himself!

The pattern goes like this: The Lord ... His saints! Then, His saints followed by God and our Father! It is abbreviated AB ... BA by the grammarians. In literature it's called a "chiasm." This is a Greek term too. It's developed from the Greek alphabet, the character "chi." It means a "cross!" A place where two tracts intersect!

Truly there would have been no gifts, no Paul the Preacher, no Christians anywhere ... had it not been for the "Cross," the Cross of Calvary, the old rugged Cross!

This whole Text, all eleven Verses, celebrates Jesus' vicarious Death on the Cross, without which Christianity falls into disarray!

Again, here's that last Verse: "Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Isn't that an unusual way to end a "Thank You" note to the Philippians! Giving glory to God?

Absolutely not!

Not with Paul writing anyway!

The proper noun "God" is spelled "theos" in Greek. It's found 1,343 times in the New Testament. This word is the basis of our expressions "theology, theologian, theocracy," and so forth, including "atheist" even!

The amazing thing here is that Paul at first seems to be redundant. He appears to name God twice! God and our Father! But, just a second! He is doing no such thing. The first Name, "God," is a reference to Jesus Christ! The second Term, "our Father," has in mind the First Person of the Trinity!

Yes, the Godhead is in view, clearly!

But precisely in It's First and Second Person Sense!

Thank you, Jesus!

Thank you, Father!

Thank you, Philippians!

Paul is so grateful!

He's thanking everyone around!

No doubt he hugged Epaphroditus too, the bearer of those gifts!

Appreciation to the earthly givers indeed!

But glory to God in Heaven!

That's right!

That's exactly the proper sequence according to Jesus in Matthew 5:16. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

The Philippians brightly reflected godly generosity!

God the Father was glorified!

The noun "glory" is spelled "doxa" in Greek. It's from the verb "dokeo," meaning "to think, to seem or to evaluate!" The "Glory" we ascribe to God is the value that we place upon Him! What He is worth to us! His preciousness! His estimate in our eyes!

Paul has acknowledged full receipt of the items sent by the Philippian Church, indeed! But the true worth of the whole experience lies in the Hands of Almighty God! To Him be the praise!

He is the Ultimate Giver!

He is the Source!

He alone is God!

And this glory being attributed to God joins a chorus of eternal honor and worship and adulation being offered now in Heaven! A chorus of Hallelujahs that will last "for ever and ever." In Greek, "eis tous aionas ton aionon." That is, "glory into the ages of the ages!" Never ending! In Latin it's "secula seculorum."

"Ten thousand years," old John Newton's memorable term, just barely gets us started!

"For ever and ever!"

And what can be said to that?

Only one word, "Amen!"

And that's exactly what Paul writes too!

"Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

In Greek this is spelled "amen!" It means "firm, faithful, true!" It's really a borrowed word, from the Hebrew tongue! There "amen" means exactly the same thing, "to support or confirm!"

Dear Lord, we thank Thee!

We love You today!

Amen!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Yes, Paul here received some money or clothes or food or whatever ... yet ended up worshipping God! God, the Giver of all! Oh, one more quick comment! The paradigm Paul presents here, using earthly gifts to glorify God, is best outlined in another Verse he wrote. It is 2nd Corinthians 4:15 which says, "For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God." Proper thanksgiving always "redounds" to the glory of God! "Redounds" translates "perisseuo," to exist in abundance! Literally, "to overflow!"

                                           

PERHAPS THE VERY BEST "THANK YOU" NOTE EVER WRITTEN, PHILIPPIANS 4:10-20! AFTER ALL, IT IS INSPIRED OF GOD!

 

 

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