The point of this passage is the peace of God. There are 6 steps a believer needs to take to maintain the peace of God in your heart and life. Failure to take these steps grieves both the Lord and fellow believers.
When a believer loses his peace with God, several things happen: He becomes self-conscious, guilt struck, and likely discouraged and defeated. He also becomes critical, murmuring, grumbling, and divisive and begin to slip back into sin. The peace you once had with God and man becomes disturbed, and you lose the joy of the Lord. This passage is speaking to believers, not to unbelievers. Unbelievers don’t have peace with God. How do we keep the peace of God ruling and reigning within our souls? How do we stay aware that God’s presence is within us.
1) The first step to peace is standing firm. This verse is a transition from what Paul has just said, that there are enemies of the cross, and that our citizenship is in heaven, that the Lord is going to return and take us out of this world into heaven, transforming our bodies; therefore, stand firm. Where can we find the strength to stand firm? There are two places:
The Lord Himself in Philippians 4:1 this comes when we abide in Him and His Word. And the second is from the encouragement of a brother or sister. This is where Paul found his strength in the beloved whom he longed to see and who were his joy and crown.
2) In Philippians 4:2-3 we see the second step to peace is agreement and unity. There were some in the Philippian church who were being critical, arguing, and grumbling. Paul appealed to them to agree in the Lord. The source of the disturbance in the church was due to two significant ladies in the assembly Euodia and Syntyche.
Paul pleaded for the two ladies to get their minds together “in the Lord.” If a person is living and moving “in the Lord,” then he is walking and serving the Lord and will be consumed with the Lord and His mission. There is no time for arguing and divisiveness. A person walking in the Lord is consumed with keeping the presence of the Lord alive in his heart and life. His thoughts are on the Lord and His mission, not on differences with other believers.
Paul appealed to a yokefellow, to step in and help any who are at odds. Just who this yokefellow was is not known, but his name refers to the yoke that was fitted around the neck of oxen for plowing. The collar attached the plow and held the two oxen together so that they would pull together and more quickly get the work done. He is likely referring to someone who was known to be yoked to the Lord and respected by the community and so could solve the dispute and bring about reconciliation.
3) In Philippians 4:4 we seethe third step to peace; rejoicing in the Lord. Peace is found in rejoicing always, continually. We need to remember that Paul is in prison and the brethren are having a problem with some false teaching. Yet, Paul tells the believers that they are to walk about rejoicing in the Lord. In fact they are to rejoice in the Lord always, no matter the circumstances.
4) in Philippians 4:5 we learn the fourth step to peace and that is gentleness. According to the Barclay the word translated here as gentleness has the idea of justice in it, but that the meaning goes beyond and claims that there is something better than justice—a gracious gentleness. Believers are called to be gentle and forbearing in dealing with “all men.” Peace comes from dealing gently with Believers and unbelievers alike.
We see this attribute in Yeshua in his dealing with the woman caught in adultery. The reason we must be gentle is because the Lord is at hand. When He comes, everyone of us will need Him to treat us with gentleness. Only if we are forgiving toward others will the Lord be forgiving toward us. Forgive us our debts as we forgive those indebted to us Matthew 6:14-15.
5 ) in Philippians 4:6-7 The 5th step to peace is prayer. We are commanded to be anxious about nothing. We are not to worry of fret about anything. Humanly speaking, the Philippians had every reason to worry and be anxious. They were suffering from heavy persecution (Philippians 1:18-19). There was fighting within as we just discussed. There were members of the assembly who were prideful and self-centered (Philippians 2:3-4).
There were false teachers in their midst (Philippians 3:2-3,18-19). The remedy for anxiety and worry is prayer. “petition” refers to prayers that focus on special needs. The word “thanksgiving” means that we thank and praise God for all that He is and for all that He has done for us.
The word “requests” in the original language means specific and definite requests. We are to lay before God exactly what is needed and we are not to fear that we are being too detailed with God or bothering Him. The result of such prayers will be His peace. The Greek word here is eirēnē and means to be bound, joined, and woven together in the assurance that we are bound as one to God.
And that kind of peace passes all understanding. It is beyond anything we can ask or think. God is far greater than any problem or anything we could ever imagine or understand and carries us through every trial and tribulation. The peace of God guards our hearts and minds. The word used for guard is a military term and carries the same kind of idea of being protected by an army. It is important to note that God can keep us only as we are “in Messiah Yeshua.” (Isaiah 26:3;John 14:27,John 16:33;Romans 14:17).
6) Finally in Philippians 4:8-9 Peace comes through positive thinking. The idea is focusing our thoughts until they shape our behavior. The truth is what we think is what we become. Our thoughts shape our behavior. If our thoughts are on the world and its things we will live for the world and its things: money, possessions, position, power, recognition.
Some today dwell on porn or satisfying our flesh. Whatever we think or pursue is what we will be transformed into. A mind set on the world and the flesh is what leads to anxiety, worry, emptiness and restlessness. A worldly mind will never know the peace of God.
God won’t allow a worldly mind to have peace (Romans 12:2). Instead we are to practice positive thinking. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Modeling our behavior after the example of Paul and the result will be God’s peace.