Philippians 4

Joy, Peace, and Contentment

Paul's Crown

My beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown (Philippians 4:1).

When Paul refers to the believers at Philippi as his “crown” (Gk. stephanos), he suggests that they represent a prized possession and the culmination of his work there (cf. 1 Thess 2:19). In Paul’s day, this word was used for a wreath made of foliage (or designed to resemble foliage, like the gold crown in this photo); it was sometimes given as a prize for the winner of an athletic competition, and thus brought status or high regard to the recipient. This crown was photographed at the Amphipolis Museum in Greece.

Dancing for Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I say rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Dancing has long been a form of expressing joy and happiness. This scene on the shoulder of an oil flask depicts a variety of musicians and dancers in a wedding procession. It was photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.


Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5).

The word “gentleness” (Gk. epieikēs) carries the idea of being kind, tolerant, and courteous. 1 Peter 2:18 contrasts the “good and gentle” master with the unreasonable one. This statue illustrates the tenderness of an adult with a young child, a fitting example of gentleness or forbearance. This statue is thought to represent the Greek god Silenus holding the child Dionysus. It is likely a 2nd century AD copy of an earlier Greek original.



The peace of God . . . will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

To “guard” (Gk. phroureō) is to provide security or to protect. King Herod (r. 37–4 BC) built or enhanced a number of fortresses along the eastern border of his kingdom in a bid for security. The one shown here, Macherus, is located east of the Dead Sea (which is visible in the background at the left). John the Baptist was killed at Herod’s palace here.


I also know how to live with an abundance (Philippians 4:12).

The concept of “riches” may have also evoked an image of a wealthy estate, as illustrated by the above model of a wealthy Roman home in the 1st century AD. This model shows a house built around a peristyle courtyard. Although there is no indication that Paul himself owned such an estate, he was likely housed in such wealthy homes on numerous occasions (e.g., the houses of Lydia, Philemon, etc.). This model was photographed in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Gifts to Thessalonica

Even in Thessalonica, you sent a gift more than once for my needs (Philippians 4:16).

The overland route from Philippi to Thessalonica was about 85 miles (137 km), a trip that would require four to five days for the normal traveler. The ancient city of Thessalonica is covered by the modern city; a few Roman ruins have been exposed, but most of the ancient city is inaccessible today.

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