The Meaning of Philippians 4:8 Explained

Philippians 4:8

KJV: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

YLT: As to the rest, brethren, as many things as are true, as many as are grave, as many as are righteous, as many as are pure, as many as are lovely, as many as are of good report, if any worthiness, and if any praise, these things think upon;

Darby: For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are amiable, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if any praise, think on these things.

ASV: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

What does Philippians 4:8 Mean?

Verse Meaning

This "Finally" signals the last of the three imperatives that explain how to stand firm ( Philippians 4:1; cf. Philippians 4:2; Philippians 4:4). It also introduces Paul"s next to the last exhortation in this list that deals with what the believer should spend his or her time thinking about. This subject obviously relates to prayer since both activities involve mental concentration.
"True" (alethe) means valid, honest, and reliable (cf. Romans 3:4)."Honorable" or "noble" (semna) means worthy of respect (cf. Proverbs 8:6; 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:2)."Right" (dikaia) refers to what is just and upright."Pure" (hagna) denotes cleanness and connotes moral purity."Lovely" (prosphile) means what is amiable, agreeable, or pleasing.
"In common parlance, this word could refer to a Beethoven symphony, as well as to the work of Mother Teresa among the poor of Calcutta; the former is lovely and enjoyable, the latter is admirable as well as moral." [1]
"Of good repute" or "admirable" (euphema) refers to what is praiseworthy because it measures up to the highest standards.
Paul listed these virtues like contemporary moral philosophers of his day taught, namely, by reciting catalogues of virtues and vices. [2]
The conditional clause structure at the end of this sentence is a rhetorical device. It places the responsibility on the reader to make his or her own decision regarding what is excellent and praiseworthy. [3]
". . . Paul seems to be drawing upon the cultural background of the Philippians and is saying to them: "If there is such a thing as moral excellence, and you believe there is. If there is a kind of behavior that elicits universal approval, and you believe there Isaiah ," then continue to strive for this goodness and to attain to this level of behavior that will command the praise of men and of God." [4]
"We are responsible for our thoughts and can hold them to high and holy ideals." [5]

Context Summary

Philippians 4:1-9 - Inspiring Exhortations
What a strong and faithful heart was Paul's! Poor and despised though he was, he had both joys and crowns of which no hostile force could deprive him. He lived in the encompassing atmosphere of eternity, as we may. Surely these two Christian women could not have withstood this tender exhortation; and all his fellow-workers must have been heartened by the thought that their names were dear to Christ, and entered in the birthday book of the twice-born.
Joy and peace are the subjects of the next paragraph. How wonderful that these struggling little churches were drinking of springs of which the princes and citizens of Greece and Rome knew nothing. Note the conditions. We must be moderate in our ambitions and gentle in our behavior. We must ever practice the presence of our Lord-He is always at hand. We must turn over all causes of anxiety to the Father's infinite care and leave them with Him. We must thank Him for the past, and count on Him for the future. While we pray, the Angel of Peace will descend to stand as sentry at our heart's door. But we must possess the God of peace as well as the peace of God-the one condition being that we must earnestly pursue all things that are true, just, pure, and lovely. [source]

Chapter Summary: Philippians 4

1  From particular admonitions,
4  he proceeds to general exhortations,
10  showing how he rejoiced at their generosity toward him while in prison
19  And so he concludes with prayer and salutations

Greek Commentary for Philippians 4:8

Finally [το λοιπον]
See note on Phlippians 3:1. [source]
Whatsoever [οσα]
Thus he introduces six adjectives picturing Christian ideals, old-fashioned and familiar words not necessarily from any philosophic list of moral excellencies Stoic or otherwise. Without these no ideals can exist. They are pertinent now when so much filth is flaunted before the world in books, magazines and moving-pictures under the name of realism (the slime of the gutter and the cess-pool). Honourable (σεμνα — semna). Old word from σεβω — sebō to worship, revere. So revered, venerated (1 Timothy 3:8). Pure Old word for all sorts of purity. There are clean things, thoughts, words, deeds. Lovely (προσπιλη — prosphilē). Old word, here only in N.T., from προς — pros and πιλεω — phileō pleasing, winsome. Of good report Paul changes the construction from οσα — hosa (whatsoever) to a condition of the first class, as in Phlippians 2:1, with two substantives. Virtue Old word, possibly from αρεσκω — areskō to please, used very often in a variety of senses by the ancients for any mental excellence or moral quality or physical power. Its very vagueness perhaps explains its rarity in the N.T., only four times (Phlippians 4:8; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 1:5). It is common in the papyri, but probably Paul is using it in the sense found in the lxx (Isa 42:12; 43:21) of God‘s splendour and might (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 95) in connection with “praise” Present middle imperative for habit of thought. We are responsible for our thoughts and can hold them to high and holy ideals. [source]
Honourable [σεμνα]
Old word from σεβω — sebō to worship, revere. So revered, venerated (1 Timothy 3:8). [source]
Pure [αγνα]
Old word for all sorts of purity. There are clean things, thoughts, words, deeds. Lovely (προσπιλη — prosphilē). Old word, here only in N.T., from προς — pros and πιλεω — phileō pleasing, winsome. Of good report Paul changes the construction from οσα — hosa (whatsoever) to a condition of the first class, as in Phlippians 2:1, with two substantives. Virtue Old word, possibly from αρεσκω — areskō to please, used very often in a variety of senses by the ancients for any mental excellence or moral quality or physical power. Its very vagueness perhaps explains its rarity in the N.T., only four times (Phlippians 4:8; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 1:5). It is common in the papyri, but probably Paul is using it in the sense found in the lxx (Isa 42:12; 43:21) of God‘s splendour and might (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 95) in connection with “praise” Present middle imperative for habit of thought. We are responsible for our thoughts and can hold them to high and holy ideals. [source]
Lovely [προσπιλη]
Old word, here only in N.T., from προς — pros and πιλεω — phileō pleasing, winsome. [source]
Of good report [ευπημα]
Paul changes the construction from οσα — hosa (whatsoever) to a condition of the first class, as in Phlippians 2:1, with two substantives. Virtue Old word, possibly from αρεσκω — areskō to please, used very often in a variety of senses by the ancients for any mental excellence or moral quality or physical power. Its very vagueness perhaps explains its rarity in the N.T., only four times (Phlippians 4:8; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 1:5). It is common in the papyri, but probably Paul is using it in the sense found in the lxx (Isa 42:12; 43:21) of God‘s splendour and might (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 95) in connection with “praise” Present middle imperative for habit of thought. We are responsible for our thoughts and can hold them to high and holy ideals. [source]
If there be any [ει τις]
Paul changes the construction from οσα — hosa (whatsoever) to a condition of the first class, as in Phlippians 2:1, with two substantives. [source]
Virtue [αρετη]
Old word, possibly from αρεσκω — areskō to please, used very often in a variety of senses by the ancients for any mental excellence or moral quality or physical power. Its very vagueness perhaps explains its rarity in the N.T., only four times (Phlippians 4:8; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 1:5). It is common in the papyri, but probably Paul is using it in the sense found in the lxx (Isa 42:12; 43:21) of God‘s splendour and might (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 95) in connection with “praise” Present middle imperative for habit of thought. We are responsible for our thoughts and can hold them to high and holy ideals. [source]
Think on these things [ταυτα λογιζεστε]
Present middle imperative for habit of thought. We are responsible for our thoughts and can hold them to high and holy ideals. [source]
Honest [σεμνὰ]
Rev., honorable, reverend in margin. In classical Greek an epithet of the gods, venerable, reverend. The word occurs only here and in the pastoral epistles, 1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:2, where it is rendered grave, both in A.V. and Rev. There lies in it the idea of a dignity or majesty which is yet inviting and attractive, and which inspires reverence. Grave, as Trench observes, does not exhaust the meaning. Gravity may be ridiculous. “The word we want is one in which the sense of gravity and dignity, and of these as inviting reverence, is combined.” Ellicott's venerable is perhaps as near as any word, if venerable be divested of its modern conventional sense as implying age, and confined to its original sense, worthy of reverence. [source]
Pure [ἁγνά]
See on 1 John 3:3. [source]
Lovely [προσφιλῆ]
Only here in the New Testament. Adapted to excite love, and to endear him who does such things. [source]
Of good report [εὔφημα]
Only here in the New Testament. Lit., sounding well. The kindred verb is commonly used in an active sense. Hence not well spoken of, but fairspeaking, and so winning, gracious (Rev., in margin). [source]
Virtue [ἀρετὴ]
With this exception the word occurs only in Peter's epistles; 1 Peter 2:9(note); 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 1:5(note). [source]
Praise [ἔπαινος]
Commendation corresponding to the moral value of the virtue. In the Septuagint, ἀρετὴ virtueis four times used to translate the Hebrew praise. The two ideas seem to be coordinated. Lightfoot remarks that Paul seems studiously to avoid this common heathen term for moral excellence, and his explanation is very suggestive: “Whatever value may reside in your old heathen conception of virtue, whatever consideration is due to the praise of men.” [source]

What do the individual words in Philippians 4:8 mean?

- Finally brothers whatever is TRUE venerable right pure lovely admirable if any excellence and any praise these things think on
Τὸ λοιπόν ἀδελφοί ὅσα ἐστὶν ἀληθῆ σεμνά δίκαια ἁγνά προσφιλῆ εὔφημα εἴ τις ἀρετὴ καὶ τις ἔπαινος ταῦτα λογίζεσθε

Τὸ  - 
Parse: Article, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
λοιπόν  Finally 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: λοιπός  
Sense: remaining, the rest.
ἀδελφοί  brothers 
Parse: Noun, Vocative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀδελφός  
Sense: a brother, whether born of the same two parents or only of the same father or mother.
ὅσα  whatever 
Parse: Personal / Relative Pronoun, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: ὅσος  
Sense: as great as, as far as, how much, how many, whoever.
ἀληθῆ  TRUE 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: ἀληθής  
Sense: true.
σεμνά  venerable 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: σεμνός  
Sense: august, venerable, reverend.
δίκαια  right 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: δίκαιος  
Sense: righteous, observing divine laws.
ἁγνά  pure 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: ἁγνός  
Sense: exciting reverence, venerable, sacred.
προσφιλῆ  lovely 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: προσφιλής  
Sense: acceptable, pleasing.
εὔφημα  admirable 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: εὔφημος  
Sense: sounding well.
τις  any 
Parse: Interrogative / Indefinite Pronoun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: τὶς  
Sense: a certain, a certain one.
ἀρετὴ  excellence 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ἀρετή  
Sense: a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action.
τις  any 
Parse: Interrogative / Indefinite Pronoun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: τὶς  
Sense: a certain, a certain one.
ἔπαινος  praise 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: ἔπαινος  
Sense: approbation, commendation, praise.
ταῦτα  these  things 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Accusative Neuter Plural
Root: οὗτος  
Sense: this.
λογίζεσθε  think  on 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Middle or Passive, 2nd Person Plural
Root: λογίζομαι  
Sense: to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over.