I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Even though Paul never uses the word “trust” in this passage, as we reach the end of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, trust is a key theme in Paul’s conclusion. Trust is simply confidence and belief in the reliability of another person. A trustworthy person is someone with a track record of effective follow through. Paul closes his letter with several different expressions of trust that were an encouragement to me as I wrapped up my study of Philippians.
Paul’s first statement of trust is found in Philippians 4:11, where he says, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Content people are satisfied and relaxed. Paul has experienced virtually every kind of circumstance imaginable. He’s been wealthy, and he’s been poor. He’s lived with excess, and he’s lived in scarcity. At times Paul has been threatened, beaten, and imprisoned. At other times he has moved freely about the Roman Empire, sharing the Gospel with thousands of people. Whatever the case, he knows that he is to remain content. To be content regardless of the situation requires trust in God and confidence that God will keep His promises every time.
In verse 13 Paul then says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Again, this is an expression of implicit trust in God. Paul makes a bold statement here…that he can do “all things.” Thankfully, Paul doesn’t trust in himself. His confidence is in the One who gives him strength, the Lord.
Later Paul makes one more statement of trust, saying, “and my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Wow. The confidence Paul expresses here is inspiring. Paul has developed an unwavering trust in the Lord in the midst of some awful experiences. God has always provided for Paul and has always sustained him. He’s reliable. His track record is perfect. Because of this, Paul believes that God will meet the needs of the Philippian church, knowing that He has unlimited resources (riches in glory in Christ Jesus) available to Him.
Out of Paul’s trust in God Paul has also developed a unique trust relationship with the saints in Philippi. The Philippian church has “revived their concern” for Paul, and “shared in his trouble.” They’ve provided emotional support for Paul, as well as physical support in meeting Paul’s basic needs. He effusively thanks them for their consistent generous support of his ministry. The trust level between Paul and the Philippians is very high, because they have come through for one another time after time.
Paul ends his letter with the following benediction: “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (Philippians 4:20-23). There is a warmth and trust between Paul and the church in Philippi that has resulted from years of striving together in the Lord. Their unity in the faith was used by God to advance the Gospel in Philippi.
- Are you content regardless of the situation?
- Proverbs 3:5 says, “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your understanding.” When are you most tempted to rank your own understanding above the Lord?
- How has God proven reliable in your life? Does His track record inspire confidence? Consider the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross as you formulate your response.
Note how grateful Paul is because of the consistent financial support he receives from the Philippians. Find an opportunity to support someone who works in full-time ministry, and begin to develop a Gospel partnership with them through encouragement and financial support.