Book Review: Mark J. Keown, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary on Philippians

From the Archives: Joy - Worth Hanging On To

The Book of Philippians is one of the most positive books in Scripture. Its theme is joy. One of the best books on Philippians at a popular level is the one penned by Dr. Warren Wiersbe titled, Be Joyful.

Wiersbe presents Philippians as a book about joy and suggests that Paul identifies four thieves of joy: circumstances, people, material things, and worry. Weirsbe then suggests that Paul offers a solution to neutralize each thief of joy: the single mind (Philippians 1), the submissive mind (Philippians 2), the spiritual mind (Philippians 3), and the secure mind (Philippians 4).

Real joy comes from rich meaning; as Christians, we possess tremendous meaning if we live to glorify God. But this meaning needs to surface and affect the way we think. We can either aim to win by the world’s standards, or aim to win by God’s standards. If we try to do both, we will fail on both counts. Obviously, I advocate the second choice!

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The Philippian Model of the Christlike Servant

But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. 22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. 23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly. (KJV, Phil. 2:19–24)

Just as in Paul’s time, today we have a large number of would-be spiritual leaders who should be rejected as unworthy guides to God and eternity. Though some are unorthodox and easy to spot, many are orthodox but possess subtler problems of character that ought to be just as disqualifying. In Phillippians 2 Paul references problems of practice and character that should remove someone from spiritual leadership. A quick look at five thoughts the Holy Spirit gives us in this passage will help clarify whom we should accept for spiritual oversight,1 and whom we should not.

1. Likemindedness (Phil. 2:20)

“Likeminded” (or like-souled: ισοψυχος, isopsuchos) is a new word to Paul’s readers, never before appearing in his writings and not to appear again in Scripture. It’s a word of comparison, and a word of creation. Though the KJV uses the word “mind,” the second half of the word is actually “soul.” Since God knows the difference, it will be helpful to remember.

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Responding Publicly to Erring Brethren: Motives and Methods, Part 2

Read Part 1.

Paul’s methods for responding to false accusation

In Philippians 1:12-18, Paul provides a model for our methods in responding to false accusations.

Provide the facts

Facts appear to be Paul’s primary weapon for taking on the untruths about himself. Assuming God wants us to write or speak publicly about the controversy, we should do our best to get the truth out there through whatever means are available. But in the actual writing or speaking, we should be restrained in our presentation.

Be restrained

Our Lord has withheld much information about these men from us, and it is not because He lacked knowledge, authority, or justification to reveal all. Whatever His reasons for not giving more information about the preachers of envy, those reasons were apparently controlling in this example. Though the men would have been quick to name Paul in their own messages, convincing their listeners of Paul’s wickedness, our Lord keeps their names out of the press. Though they committed their verbal sins publicly, Christ does not publicly elaborate on their sinfulness. Indeed, we are not given any salacious details that would tease and tempt our sinful flesh. Instead we get the barest of facts regarding sinful motives, and no names to put with the faces.

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