Philippians 4:10-14

After the sundry items (4:1-9), Paul gives attention to one final topic: the gift[1] from the Philippians.[2] In these verses, he shares his perspective regarding material provision: 1) his joy, 2) his contentment, and 3) their partnership.

Joy (10): Paul begins[3] with the words "I rejoiced."[4] He reminisces on his joyful reaction to the gift he received, and he elaborates on several aspects of this joy. First, this was rejoicing in the Lord. This is distinct from an atheistic joy over the gift only. Instead, this joy has a deep regard for the Lord's work in the provision. Second, Paul "rejoiced … greatly." This was literally a "mega"[5] joy! Paul shows no hint of ingratitude here, as though he were entitled to financial support as an apostle.[6] Third, this joy was over his friends' thoughtfulness.[7] Paul explains that they had a deep "concern" for him which led to this act of generosity. Paul then quickly dismisses any notion that they were indifferent before. They always thought about him;[8] they just "lacked opportunity."[9]

Contentment (11-13): Paul then immediately follows this with another disclaimer. It is not mainly because his physical needs were being met that he rejoices.[10] Paul's contentment is not dependent on material provision. He is "content in whatever circumstances I am." Then he lists the extremes of circumstances in pairs: "humble means" and "prosperity," "being filled" and "going hungry," "having an abundance"[11] and "suffering need." Contentment, for Paul, isn't anchored in the changing tides of circumstances, but in[12] the person on whom he depends: He who strengthens him. This is the Lord![13] In Christ, Paul can be content throughout all the ups and downs of life.[14] This is a self-sufficiency that comes from depending on Christ alone. Paul thus uses the term au-tar-keis (αὐτάρκης)[15] to describe this state of being. This is a satisfaction independent of all other external influences. If we have Christ, we are satisfied and we need nothing more! Lastly, Paul shows that this is a learned behavior: "I have learned" (4:11) and "I have learned[16] the secret" (4:12). May we all also learn to be content in the Lord who strengthens us!

Partnership (14): The church adopted the apostles' afflictions as their own. "[You did] share with me[17] in my afflictions." Believers stand together with others who suffer for Christ and become "sharers" with them (Heb. 10:33).

[1] In 4:17, Paul calls this a "gift [do-ma (δόμα)]" sent to meet his needs (cf, 4:18 "I am amply supplied").

[2] Epaphroditus delivered this gift per 4:18 ("having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent").

[3] "But [de (δέ)]" is better rendered "Now," as there is no contrast. NET and ESV omit the conjunction entirely.

[4] As a Greek aorist tense verb, this points to a past experience of joy at the reception of their gift.

[5] The adverb here is me-ga-lōs (μεγάλως) from which we get the English word "mega."

[6] Paul deems this "right" to financial support as entirely biblical. Cf. 1 Cor. 9:4-14.

[7] The words "concern for me" and "were concerned before" employ the verb phro-ne-ō (φρονέω) which points to thought-life and consideration. This is the tenth and the last time this verb is used in this book.

[8] This is seen in the imperfective verb employed here: "you were [continually] concerned before."

[9] They may have lacked opportunity because of ignorance (of his situation) or scarcity (of resources), etc.

[10] "Not that I speak from want" is better translated as "Not that I speak in regard to need" (NKJV). Paul is saying that their love for him (and not just the gift itself) was truly the source of his joy.

[11] This is a repetition of "prosperity" from the first statement, which is more literally, "abundance."

[12] NASB footnotes "through Him" is literally "in Him." Paul is content in the Lord just as He rejoices in the Lord. Paul's contentment is very literally in the Lord, not in his circumstances.

[13] Paul often spoke of Christ as his strengthener (cf. 2 Cor. 12:8-10; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Tim. 1:12; 2 Tim. 4:17).

[14] "I can do all things" is better rendered as "in all things I am able." The verb "do" is not a part of the Greek. The verb that completes "I am able" is "to be content" of 4:11. As for "all things," they are the circumstances listed in 4:12. "All things [pan-ta (πάντα)]" is the same adjective in the phrase "in any [pan-ti (παντὶ)] and every [pa-sin (πᾶσιν)] circumstance." The connection between "all," "any" and "every" is very direct in Greek.

[15] This term is a compound word that means "self-satisfied" or "self-sufficient," and it occurs only here in the NT. The related noun au-tar-kei-a (αὐτάρκεια) occurs twice in the NT, both in Paul's letters. This was originally a Stoic term, but Paul uses it as his self-sufficiency that comes from his dependence on Christ.

[16] The actual verb is not the same as in 4:11 here. Nonetheless, the idea of discovery/learning is present.

[17] This is sūng-koi-nō-ne-ō (συγκοινωνέω), meaning sharing together. Paul has already employed related words to describe their "participation" (1:5) and their being his "partakers" in the gospel (1:7).