DAILY DEVOTIONAL, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2022

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Young Christians DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS 40 day devotional (1)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Paul’s list gives us an idea of what we should be focusing our minds on – in the place of anxiety (worry). Often, numbers in scripture carry some significance. We are aware of “3” is used at times to represent that which is real, solid, complete, entire, or Divine perfection, “4” being the number of the Earth (four corners, etc.), “5”is the number for grace, “6” being the number of a man, “7” being the number of completion and rest – that brings us to “8” “it is 7 plus 1. Hence, it is the number specially associated with Resurrection and Regeneration and the beginning of a new era or order.[1]

Paul is showing that by focusing our minds and time on the proper mode of thought, we will be starting a new direction in the life of a believer. These eight qualities will help to establish the environment of peace – the peace of God in our joy no matter what the world or circumstances are like around us. This list is an asyndeton, or grammatically – without conjunctions.[2] Notice how he constantly uses the term “whatever” in this list – six of the times he uses the Greek hosa, and twice he uses ei tis. The words translated “if there be” (Greek words ei tis) carries the meaning of everyone who, everything that, or whatever.[3]

We also see a form of writing called a chiasmos (called because of the resemblance to the Greek letter chi – or X). That is a stately and dignified form of writing that emphasizes the importance of the material being presented. There is a correspondence of the material presented – the first with the last, the second with the next to last, etc.

In this passage, we find that Paul is corresponding to the words like this:

As we look at each word, consider the importance of focusing your mind on these areas while in the battle against the worldly state of mind. We will discuss them in the chiasmos that Paul presents them.

Paul begins with things that are true. Here, the Greek word is (ἀληθής alēthēs) and means unconcealed, manifest, and true to fact. Paul says we are to rest on reality; we are to seek out ethical “truthfulness” in all our thoughts. He pairs this with the Greek word (ἔπαινος epainos) which is best translated as praiseworthy and is a stronger form of the Greek word (αἶνος ainos) which means a narration. Paul emphasizes the need for us to focus our minds upon those things that are truthful in every way.

He then lists honorable (σεμνός semnos) which can translate as reverend, august, venerable, serious, or grave.[4] It stresses those things that carry both gravity and dignity. This is paired with the Greek word (ἀρετή aretē), and it carries the thought of intrinsic moral excellence. Peter uses it in 2 Peter 1:5 and is joined with faith. Paul emphasizes the need for us to focus our minds on those things that are of intrinsic moral excellence.

WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD THE BATTLE FOR THE CHRISTIAN MIND (1)-1

The third pairing in this chiasmos begins with the word just (δίκαιος dikaios) it was first used of persons who sought to fulfill their duties toward the gods and men. This carries the meaning in the New Testament of being in a state of being right, with right conduct, in the sense of “rightwiseness” or righteousness in any word or deed. And we see Paul pairs this with the term “good report” (εὔφημος euphēmos). This word is used only in this one place in the New Testament. It is an adjective from the words eu “well” and pheme “a saying or report.” It has the primary meaning of uttering words of good omen and thus came to mean a good report. It could be thought of as “commendable” as the English Standard Version, the Holman Standard Version, and others have translated it. The New American Standard Version translates this word as “good repute.” Paul is emphasizing the need for us to focus our minds upon those things that are of rightwiseness and praiseworthy or commendable for a good report.

The final pairing of words starts with pure (ἁγνός hagnos), which means to be pure from defilement and is from the same root word in Greek as “holy.” It is often translated as chaste. It carries the idea of being blameless, chaste, immaculate, and pure from every fault. It is the thought of something being free from sin. [5] Paul pairs this with the Greek word (προσφιλής prosphilēs) or pleasing, agreeable, or amicable. It is made up of the Greek words pros “toward” and phileo “to love.” This word is also used only in this one place in the New Testament. Paul emphasizes the need for us to focus our minds upon those things that are free from being tainted by sin and thus are agreeable and pleasing to the mind of a believer.

Eight ideals, eight areas that every believer should focus their minds on. Dr. J. Vernon McGee calls this list the briefest biography of Jesus Christ. Dr. McGee writes –

“He is the one who is “true” He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. “Whatsoever things are honest” – He is honest. “Whatsoever things are just” – He is called the Just One. “Pure” – the only pure individual who ever walked this earth was the Lord Jesus…. He was lovely which means “gracious.” Virtue has to do with strength and courage. He was the One of courage, a real man. He took upon Himself our humanity. “If … any praise” – He is the One you can praise and worship today.”[6]

So, as Paul has stressed that we are to make the mind of Christ our own (2:5-11), he gives us an example of what to study and meditate upon – Jesus Christ Himself. The very attributes that make up our Savior are the basis of our study.

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“[T]hink on these things.” The Greek words (ταῦτα tauta λογίζομαι logizomai) that we have translated as “think on those things,” is in the present tense (usually denotes a continuous kind of action, it shows ‘action in progress’ or ‘a state of persistence.’), middle voice (shows the subject acting in his own interest or on his own behalf, or participating in the results of the verbal action), and imperative mood (The imperative mood is a command or instruction given to the hearer, charging the hearer to carry out or perform a certain action).[7] As we unwrap the words in Greek, we can see that Paul is not just speaking in passing here. He emphasizes the importance of “think[ing] on these things,” these eight qualities that will create an environment of peace for the believer. He is giving the Philippian believers a command to make thinking about these things a lifestyle, a habit that will be in their own interest and benefit. Just as it was in those days, so it should be for believers today. But, before he finishes this section of practical counsel, Paul makes one more reminder for the Philippian believers to follow his example – the example of having the mind of Christ.

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[1] Ethelbert W. Bullinger, Number in Scripture: It’s supernatural design and spiritual significance (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Pubkications, 1979). Page 200. See also, John J. Davis, Biblical Numerology: A basic study of the use of numbers in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1969), and Ed F. Vallowe, Biblical Mathematics: keys to scripture numerics (Taylor, SC: Faith Printing Company, 1991).

[2] E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1968). Page 138.

[3] Wesley J. Perschbacher, ed., The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, ed. Wesley J. Perschbacher (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1990). Page 123.

[4] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 278.

[5] Four main thoughts are used in the New Testament for the concept of being holy. Hagios (holy) means to be free from any mixture of sin; hagnos (chaste or pure) means to be free from defilement; eilikrines (pure) as being tested, judged by sunlight; and katharous (pure) as being cleansed. W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 97.

[6] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. V, V vols. (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 1983). Page 325.

[7] Corey Keating, Greek Verbs (Shorter Form), http://www.ntgreek.org/learn_nt_greek/verbs1.htm (accessed 04 21, 2014).

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