Introduction-“I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:2 ESV)
-In Philippians 4:6, Paul states that our prayers are to be marked by thankfulness, coming from a heart that is always rejoicing in the Lord (v. 4) and a life that is marked by graciousness towards all people (v. 5). Our prayers and our supplications, being brought forth to God our Father, are the removers of anxiety, and what now results is the peaceful security of Christ expounded in verse 7.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
1. The Origin of Peace
-“And the peace” (καὶ ἡ εἰρήνη) refers to the opposite of anxiety, for εἰρήνη refers to the peace and freedom from worry that we can have. But it refers to more than that, for it also refers to the powerful presence of God’s healing working on the human soul.
-Peace is safety from enemies. (Exodus 18:23; Leviticus 26:6)
-Peace is a covenantal promise from the Lord for His people. (Numbers 6:26; Numbers 25:12)
-Peace is goodwill in fellowship. (Matthew 10:13; Luke 10:5-6)
-Peace is freedom from bondage. (Luke 1:79)
-Peace is assurance that we are saved. (Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50; Luke 8:48)
-Peace is assurance that God is in control through the power of His Son. (Luke 19:38)
-Peace is the message of reconciliation with God. (Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1)
-Peace is a gift from the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22)
-“of God” (τοῦ θεοῦ) is the origin of our peace. God Himself is the source of our peace. This is the only time the phrase “peace of God” occurs in the New Testament. The genitive case of the noun Theos means that God is the Author of our peace.
-Paul refers to God as the “God of peace”. (Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20)
-Paul frequently greets his readers with peace from God. (1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2)
-Paul prayed for the Romans that the God of peace would bring them hope. (Romans 15:19)
-In order for God to bring peace, He must be in complete control of all things. (Psalm 115:3; Isaiah 46:9-10)
-In order for God to bring peace, He must be perfectly good in all He does. (Psalm 34:8; Psalm 107:1; Psalm 145:9)
-In order for God to bring peace, He must be almighty. (Genesis 17:1; Psalm 62:11; Revelation 1:8)
-In order for God to bring peace, He must know all things. (Psalm 147:5; 1 John 3:20)
-In order for God to bring peace, He must be the Ruler of the cosmos. (1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Psalm 103:19)
-In order for God to bring peace, He must conquer all His enemies. (Isaiah 31:4; Isaiah 42:13)
-In order for God to bring peace, He has given us His Son. (Luke 2:10-14)
2. The Heights of Peace
-“which surpasses” (ὑπερέχουσα) has the idea of “towering above”. God’s peace towers above everything else. Ὑπερέχουσα comes from ‘υπερεχω.
-Paul has exhorted the Philippians to consider others “more significant” (ὑπερέχοντας) than themselves. Ὑπερέχοντας comes from ‘υπερεχω.
-Paul has already described the knowledge of the Lord Jesus as “surpassing worth.” (Ὑπερέχον) (Philippians 3:8) ‘Υπερέχον also comes from ‘υπερεχω.
-“all understanding” (πάντα νοῦν) means that our finite minds cannot fully comprehend the heights of God’s peace. It surpasses not only our understanding, but “all” (παντα) our understanding. Νουν, coming from the root νους, is translated 22 times out of 24 as “mind”, and twice as “understanding” in Philippians 4:7 and Revelation 13:18.
-Understanding involves knowledgeable comprehension. (Proverbs 29:7)
-Understanding involves having our minds opened by the power of the Lord. (Luke 24:45)
-Understanding involves comprehension of what one hears. (Nehemiah 8:2-3; 7)
-We are capable of understanding because we are made in the image of God. (Psalm 32:9; Psalm 49:20)
-Those who lack understanding are considered fools by Scripture. (Psalm 94:8)
-Only the redeemed in the Lord can possess true understanding, for fallen men cannot possess it. (Proverbs 28:5; Proverbs 29:7; Isaiah 1:3; Isaiah 6:9)
-Those who possess wisdom from God are considered understanding individuals by Scripture. (Proverbs 14:6; Proverbs 14:33)
-God commends those who have godly understanding. (Deuteronomy 1:13; Deuteronomy 4:6)
-God Himself possesses perfect understanding. (1 Chronicles 28:9; Job 28:13)
-God is the One who gives us understanding. (Psalm 119:27; Psalm 119:34; Psalm 119:125)
-Scripture itself indicates that mortal men cannot possess complete understanding. (Proverbs 20:24)
-Even though God gives us understanding, even though the Lord has opened our minds to receive the things in His Word, even though He has redeemed us and we have illuminated understanding through the power of the Spirit, God’s peace is so magnificent that it towers above anything our finite minds could completely comprehend.
3. The Safeguard of Peace
-“will guard” (φρουρήσει) is a future active indicative verb, so Paul promises that God’s peace will assuredly guard us when we joyfully surrender our anxieties to God in prayer. As John Calvin points out in his commentary, the fact that this is in the indicative mood and not the optative mood means that this is no hope of Paul for the Philippians, but an absolutely certain indication of what will be true for them. During the time in which Paul writes this to Philippi, the city was guarded by a Roman garrison which brought peace and safety to that region.
-“Guard” is a military term, implying that peace stands on duty to keep out anything that brings care and anxiety. For these reasons, prayerful people are peaceful people.”
-“God’s peace will guard your heart and mind against anxiety creeping back in. Will we cling to the things that breed worry and anxiety, or will we thankfully offer them up to God? If we do the latter, God’s peace will not only alleviate the stress and fear, it will also guard against its recurrence.”
-This concept of guarding also occurs in 2 Corinthians 11:32 and 1 Peter 1:5.
-In order for a guard to be effective, it must be constantly vigilant. (Nehemiah 4:13; 1 Corinthians 16:13)
-In order for a guard to be effective, it must be more powerful than that which attack it. (Genesis 3:24; 2 Kings 6:17)
-A guard presupposes that attackers will come and attack that which is being secured. (Nehemiah 4:11-12)
-Anxiety is the attacker that Paul presupposes here. (Philippians 4:6; Matthew 6:27)
-God’s peace is far more powerful than human anxiety. (Isaiah 32:17; Isaiah 54:10)
-God’s peace is far more vigilant than our human efforts. (Psalm 4:8; Proverbs 3:24-26)
-“your hearts” (τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν) refers to the inner being of the Philippians. Had Paul been referring merely to the seat of human emotions as we use the term “heart” today, he would have used the term σπλάγχνα (splanchna) instead; this term is translated “bowels” by the KJV in 1 John 3:17. Instead, καρδια (kardia) has a wider and deeper meaning.
-The heart in biblical terms defines a person’s moral state. (Matthew 5:8; Matthew 9:4; Matthew 12:34)
-The heart in biblical terms is the center of belief or unbelief. (Luke 24:25; Luke 24:32; Romans 10:9)
-The heart in biblical terms is the center of deeply-rooted emotions. (Acts 2:26; Acts 2:37; Romans 9:2)
-The heart in biblical terms is the center of thoughts and desires. (Acts 5:4; Acts 7:23; Romans 10:6)
-The heart in biblical terms is the very core of man’s inner thoughts. (1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 4:25)
-The heart in biblical terms is the repository of what we treasure more than all else. (2 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 7:11)
-“and your minds” (καὶ τὰ νοήματα ὑμῶν) refers to the center of the Philippians’ thoughts and feelings. The mind comes from the “heart” as the Bible uses the term “heart”. The “heart” is not separate from the mind, but contains the “mind”.
-The mind is the center of understanding. (2 Corinthians 3:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4)
-The mind is the thought-machine for the human being. (2 Corinthians 10:5; 2 Corinthians 11:3)
4. The Prince of Peace
-“in Christ Jesus” (ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ) is the same prepositional phrase as εν Κυριω (“in the Lord”), but now Paul uses the title (“Christ”) and name (“Jesus”) for our Lord.
-The hope in Isaiah 9:6 would be that the “Prince of Peace” would come and usher in the Messianic hope of everlasting peace for Israel.
-Paul referred to Christ as the “Lord of peace” earlier in his ministry. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
-The phrase “Lord of peace” for Jesus in the New Testament is taken from the Old Testament title for God in Judges 6:24: יְהוָ֖ה שָׁלֹ֑ום (Yahweh Shalom).
-Paul exhorted the Colossian church about letting Christ rule their hearts in peace. (Colossians 3:15)
-During His ministry, Jesus encourages us with words that He has come to bring us peace. (John 4:1; John 16:33; John 20:19)
-The Psalmist frequently declares the Lord to be a fortress in times of trouble. (Psalm 31:3; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 91:2) The analogy therefore is that God’s peace is our guard, and Jesus Christ is our fortress.
-A Roman fortress, around which civilians frequently lived, could be large enough to hold an entire Roman legion (6,000 soldiers). Whereas temporary forts had walls of wood, permanent fortresses had stone walls. Around the outer walls, a ditch would be dug and the removed dirt would be used to build a rampart. Two guard towers stood watch on either side of each gate. Within the fortress itself, military barracks housed the soldiers. The granary provided a place to store food, while the principia was the headquarters building. The Praetorium was the residence of the Roman general in the fortress.
-Jesus Christ is victorious over all things, so God’s peace will guard us in Jesus who Himself will never be overthrown. (Psalm 3:6; Psalm 27:3)
-Jesus Christ will be our eternal refuge and fortress who will forever keep us secure in Him. (Psalm 61:3; Proverbs 18:10)
-“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27 ESV)