The Expository Files.

From Calculation to Conduct 

Philippians 4:8,9

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." {Philippians 4:8,9, NKJV}

This is part of Paul's closing instructions and exhortations to the Christians at Philippi. Perhaps the most familiar phrase in this text is the imperative: "Think on these things." But don't overlook this: The thinking of verse eight leads to the doing (obedience) of verse nine.

Bro. L.A. Mott has observed, it may be better to translate this: "Take account of ..." The Greek term is logizomai and it "involves the use of the mind and the reason: reckon, count, compute, calculate, take into account. After this process of reasoning, then some action must be taken (v.9). But first comes the calculation." (Mott, p.#106). In other words, the calculation of verse 8 is designed to lead to the action of obedience in verse 9.

Verse 8 describes the mental atmosphere or attitude that keeps us pure and faithful; and motivates obedience. Our thoughts ought to be characterized by things that are "true, noble, just," etc. These adjectives ". . . do not represent different individual virtues, as though some things may be true, others honorable, and still others just, pure, lovely or of good report. The several qualities will characterize all Christian values or excellencies, which are turned all around as one might a diamond, so that the light may fall upon now this aspect, now that one," (Mott, THINKING THROUGH PHILIPPIANS, p.#105).

Verse 9 describes the conduct that is produced by this calculation. It is conduct in keeping with what we have learned and received and heard from and through the apostles. As we read and study the New Testament, there is a pattern we discover there. We find a pattern for the work of the church, our worship and the ordering of domestic affairs in marriages and families. There is instruction that constitutes a pattern for my individual behavior as a child of God.

If our thinking is characterized by the several qualities outlined in verse 8, that kind of thinking will produce the conduct specified in verse 9 - doing as the apostles taught; following their pattern. The thinking of verse 9 has a purpose, and the purpose lies in the sphere of action described in verse 9: Continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine (see also Acts 2:42; 2 Thess. 3:14).

"Paul does not merely put so many abstractions before the Philippians. He reminds them of the things he had taught them and they had 'learned and received' and of the example he had placed before them ('heard and saw in me'). In this way the abstractions became personal and concrete." (Mott, p.# 106). As I do the mental calculating and thinking of verse 8, the product is the obedience of verse 9, and there is a result!

The Result: "The God of peace will be with you." Reading back through the text and making all this personal: If I want the God of peace to be with me, I'll continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, motivated by the pure thinking and calculating taught in verse 8. "Think on these things!"

"Thinking Through Philippians," by L.A. Mott, Jr.
New Testament Commentary, Philippians, by William Hendricksen

 By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 3.12; December 1996