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Philippians 4:8

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Finally, brethren - The object of the apostle is to recommend holiness and righteousness to them in every point of view; and to show that the Gospel of Christ requires all its professors to have the mind that was in Christ, and to walk as he himself also walked. That they were not to attend to one branch of righteousness or virtue only, but to every thing by which they might bring honor to God, good to their fellow creatures, and credit to themselves.

Whatsoever things are true - Ὁσα - αληθη· All that is agreeable to unchangeable and eternal truth. Whether that which is to be learned from the nature and state of created things, or that which comes immediately from God by revelation.

Whatsoever things are honest - Ὁσα σεμνα· Whatever is grave, decent, and venerable. Whatever becomes you as men, as citizens, and as Christians.

Whatsoever things are just - Ὁσα δικαια· Whatsoever is agreeable to justice and righteousness. All that ye owe to God, to your neighbor, and to yourselves.

Whatsoever things are pure - Ὁσα ἁγνα· Whatsoever is chaste. In reference to the state of the mind, and to the acts of the body.

Whatsoever things are lovely - Ὁσα προσφιλη· Whatsoever is amiable on its own account and on account of its usefulness to others, whether in your conduct or conversation.

Whatsoever things are of good report - Ὁσα ευφημα· Whatsoever things the public agree to acknowledge as useful and profitable to men; such as charitable institutions of every kind, in which genuine Christians should ever take the lead.

If there be any virtue - If they be calculated to promote the general good of mankind, and are thus praiseworthy;

Think on these things - Esteem them highly, recommend them heartily, and practice them fervently.

Instead of ει τις επαινος, if there be any praise, several eminent MSS., as D*EFG, add επιστημης, of knowledge; and the Vulgate and the Itala have disciplinae, of discipline; but none of these appear to be an original reading.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Finally, brethren - As for what remains - τὸ λοιπὸν to loipon- or as a final counsel or exhortation.

Whatsoever things are true - In this exhortation the apostle assumes that there were certain things admitted to be true, and pure, and good, in the world, which had not been directly revealed, or which were commonly regarded as such by the people of the world, and his object is to show them that such things ought to be exhibited by the Christian. Everything that was honest and just toward God and toward people was to be practiced by them, and they were in all things to be examples of the highest kind of morality. They were not to exhibit partial virtues; not to perform one set of duties to the neglect or exclusion of others; not to be faithful in their duties to God, and to neglect their duty to people, not to be punctual in their religious rites, and neglectful of the comment laws of morality; but they were to do everything that could be regarded as the fair subject of commendation, and that was implied in the highest moral character. The word true refers here to everything that was the reverse of falsehood. They were to be true to their engagements; true to their promises; true in their statements; and true in their friendships. They were to maintain the truth about God; about eternity; about the judgment; and about every man‘s character. Truth is a representation of things as they are; and they were constantly to live under the correct impression of objects. A man who is false to his engagements, or false in his statements and promises, is one who will always disgrace religion.

Whatsoever things are honest - σεμνὰ semnaProperly, venerable, reverend; then honorable, reputable. The word was originally used in relation to the gods, and to the things that pertained to them, as being worthy of honor or veneration - Passow. As applied to people, it commonly means grave, dignified, worthy of veneration or regard. In the New Testament it is rendered “grave” in 1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 3:11, and Titus 2:2, the only places where the word occurs except this; and the noun ( σεμνότης semnotēs) is rendered “honesty” in 1 Timothy 2:2, and “gravity” in 1 Timothy 3:4, and Titus 2:7. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The word, therefore, does not express precisely what the word “honest” does with us, as confined to dealings or business transactions, but rather has reference to what was regarded as worthy of reputation or honor; what there was in the customs of society, in the respect due to age and rank, and in the contact of the world, that deserved respect or esteem. It includes indeed what is right in the transaction of business, but it embraces also much more, and means that the Christian is to show respect to all the venerable and proper customs of society, when they did not violate conscience or interfere with the law of God; compare 1 Timothy 3:7.

Whatsoever things are just - The things which are right between man and man. A Christian should be just in all his dealings. His religion does not exempt him from the strict laws which bind people to the exercise of this virtue, and there is no way by which a professor of religion can do more injury perhaps than by injustice and dishonesty in his dealings. It is to be remembered that the people of the world, in estimating a person‘s character, affix much more importance to the virtues of justice and honesty than they do to regularity in observing the ordinances of religion; and therefore if a Christian would make an impression on his fellow-men favorable to religion, it is indispensable that he manifest uncorrupted integrity in his dealings.

Whatsoever things are pure - Chaste - in thought, in feeling, and in the conversation between the sexes; compare the notes at 1 Timothy 5:2.

Whatsoever things are lovely - The word used here means properly what is dear to anyone; then what is pleasing. Here it means what is amiable - such a temper of mind that one can love it; or such as to be agreeable to others. A Christian should not be sour, crabby, or irritable in his temper - for nothing almost tends so much to injure the cause of religion as a temper always chafed; a brow morose and stern; an eye that is severe and unkind, and a disposition to find fault with everything. And yet it is to be regretted that there are many persons who make no pretensions to piety, who far surpass many professors of religion in the virtue here commended. A sour and crabby temper in a professor of religion will undo all the good that he attempts to do.

Whatsoever things are of good report - That is, whatsoever is truly reputable in the world at large. There are actions which all people agree in commending, and which in all ages and countries are regarded as virtues. courtesy, urbanity, kindness, respect for parents, purity between brothers and sisters, are among those virtues, and the Christian should be a pattern and an example in them all. His usefulness depends much more on the cultivation of these virtues than is commonly supposed.

If there be any virtue - If there is anything truly virtuous. Paul did not suppose that he had given a full catalogue of the virtues which he would have cultivated. He, therefore, adds, that if there was anything else that had the nature of true virtue in it, they should be careful to cultivate that also. The Christian should be a pattern and an example of every virtue.

And if there be any praise - Anything worthy of praise, or that ought to be praised.

Think on these things - Let them be the object of your careful attention and study, so as to practice them. Think what they are; think on the obligation to observe them; think on the influence which they would have on the world around you.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Let believers be of one mind, and ready to help each other. As the apostle had found the benefit of their assistance, he knew how comfortable it would be to his fellow-labourers to have the help of others. Let us seek to give assurance that our names are written in the book of life. Joy in God is of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it. It more than outweighs all causes for sorrow. Let their enemies perceive how moderate they were as to outward things, and how composedly they suffered loss and hardships. The day of judgment will soon arrive, with full redemption to believers, and destruction to ungodly men. There is a care of diligence which is our duty, and agrees with a wise forecast and due concern; but there is a care of fear and distrust, which is sin and folly, and only perplexes and distracts the mind. As a remedy against perplexing care, constant prayer is recommended. Not only stated times for prayer, but in every thing by prayer. We must join thanksgivings with prayers and supplications; not only seek supplies of good, but own the mercies we have received. God needs not to be told our wants or desires; he knows them better than we do; but he will have us show that we value the mercy, and feel our dependence on him. The peace of God, the comfortable sense of being reconciled to God, and having a part in his favour, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, are a greater good than can be fully expressed. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinning under troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm and with inward satisfaction. Believers are to get and to keep a good name; a name for good things with God and good men. We should walk in all the ways of virtue, and abide therein; then, whether our praise is of men or not, it will be of God. The apostle is for an example. His doctrine and life agreed together. The way to have the God of peace with us, is to keep close to our duty. All our privileges and salvation arise in the free mercy of God; yet the enjoyment of them depends on our sincere and holy conduct. These are works of God, pertaining to God, and to him only are they to be ascribed, and to no other, neither men, words, nor deeds.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3 (EGW), 1145

14 (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 12:34-37; Philippians 4:8). Controlled, Noble Thinking Acceptable to God—[Psalm 19:14 quoted.] As God works upon the heart by His Holy Spirit, man must cooperate with Him. The thoughts must be bound about, restricted, withdrawn from branching out and contemplating things that will only weaken and defile the soul. The thoughts must be pure, the meditations of the heart must be clean, if the words of the mouth are to be words acceptable to heaven, and helpful to your associates....[Matthew 12:34-37 quoted.] 3BC 1145.1

In the sermon on the mount, Christ presented before His disciples the far-reaching principles of the law of God. He taught His hearers that the law was transgressed by the thoughts before the evil desire was carried out in actual commission. We are under obligation to control our thoughts, and to bring them into subjection to the law of God. The noble powers of the mind have been given to us by the Lord, that we may employ them in contemplating heavenly things. God has made abundant provision that the soul may make continual progression in the divine life. He has placed on every hand agencies to aid our development in knowledge and virtue; and yet, how little these agencies are appreciated or enjoyed! How often the mind is given to the contemplation of that which is earthly, sensual, and base! We give our time and thought to the trivial and commonplace things of the world, and neglect the great interests that pertain to eternal life. The noble powers of the mind are dwarfed and enfeebled by lack of exercise on themes that are worthy of their concentration. [Philippians 4:8 quoted.] 3BC 1145.2

Let every one who desires to be a partaker of the divine nature appreciate the fact that he must escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. There must be a constant, earnest struggling of the soul against the evil imaginings of the mind. There must be a steadfast resistance of temptation to sin in thought or act. The soul must be kept from every stain, through faith in Him who is able to keep you from falling. We should meditate upon the scriptures, thinking soberly and candidly upon the things that pertain to our eternal salvation. The infinite mercy and love of Jesus, the sacrifice made in our behalf, call for most serious and solemn reflection. We should dwell upon the character of our dear Redeemer and Intercessor. We should seek to comprehend the meaning of the plan of salvation. We should meditate upon the mission of Him who came to save His people from their sins. By constantly contemplating heavenly themes, our faith and love will grow stronger. Our prayers will be more and more acceptable to God, because they will be more and more mixed with faith and love. They will be more intelligent and fervent. There will be more constant confidence in Jesus, and you will have a daily, living experience in the willingness and power of Christ to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. 3BC 1145.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 317

As a family, you need to be sanctified through the truth. Dear sister, will you see the work to be done for you and take hold of it without delay, that your influence may be saving? Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” 2T 317.1

There are enough profitable subjects upon which to meditate and converse. The conversation of the Christian should be in heaven, whence we look for the Saviour. Meditation upon heavenly things is profitable, and will ever be accompanied with the peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Our calling is holy, our profession exalted. God is purifying unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. He is sitting as a refiner and purifier of silver. When the dross and tin are removed, then His image will be perfectly reflected in us. Then the prayer of Christ for His disciples will be answered in us: “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” When the truth has a sanctifying influence upon our hearts and lives, we can render to God acceptable service and can glorify Him upon the earth, being partakers of the divine nature and having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2T 317.2

Oh, how many will be found unready when the Master shall come to reckon with His servants! Many have meager ideas of what constitutes a Christian. Self-righteousness will then be of no avail. Only those can stand the test who shall be found having on the righteousness of Christ, who are imbued with His spirit, and walk even as He walked, in purity of heart and life. The conversation must be holy, and then the words will be seasoned with grace. 2T 317.3

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Ellen G. White
Sons and Daughters of God, 107

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5. SD 107.1

The Lord purifies the heart very much as we air a room. We do not close the doors and windows, and throw in some purifying substance; but we open the doors and throw wide the windows, and let heaven's purifying atmosphere flow in.... The windows of impulse, of feeling must be opened up toward heaven, and the dust of selfishness and earthliness must be expelled. The grace of God must sweep through the chambers of the mind, the imagination must have heavenly themes for contemplation, and every element of the nature must be purified and vitalized by the Spirit of God.23Ellen G. White Manuscript 3, 1892. SD 107.2

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 460

“Keep thy heart with all diligence,” is the counsel of the wise man; “for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23. As man “thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7. The heart must be renewed by divine grace, or it will be in vain to seek for purity of life. He who attempts to build up a noble, virtuous character independent of the grace of Christ is building his house upon the shifting sand. In the fierce storms of temptation it will surely be overthrown. David's prayer should be the petition of every soul: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. And having become partakers of the heavenly gift, we are to go on unto perfection, being “kept by the power of God through faith.” 1 Peter 1:5. PP 460.1

Yet we have a work to do to resist temptation. Those who would not fall a prey to Satan's devices must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts. The mind should not be left to wander at random upon every subject that the adversary of souls may suggest. “Girding up the loins of your mind,” says the apostle Peter, “Be sober, ... not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in ... your ignorance: but like as He which called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living.” 1 Peter 1:13-15, R.V. Says Paul, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8. This will require earnest prayer and unceasing watchfulness. We must be aided by the abiding influence of the Holy Spirit, which will attract the mind upward, and habituate it to dwell on pure and holy things. And we must give diligent study to the word of God. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy word.” “Thy word,” says the psalmist, “have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” Psalm 119:9, 11. PP 460.2

Israel's sin at Beth-peor brought the judgments of God upon the nation, and though the same sins may not now be punished as speedily, they will as surely meet retribution. “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” 1 Corinthians 3:17. Nature has affixed terrible penalties to these crimes—penalties which, sooner or later, will be inflicted upon every transgressor. It is these sins more than any other that have caused the fearful degeneracy of our race, and the weight of disease and misery with which the world is cursed. Men may succeed in concealing their transgression from their fellow men, but they will no less surely reap the result, in suffering, disease, imbecility, or death. And beyond this life stands the tribunal of the judgment, with its award of eternal penalties. “They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” but with Satan and evil angels shall have their part in that “lake of fire” which “is the second death.” Galatians 5:21; Revelation 20:14. PP 461.1

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