Dwell on these things

Over a week ago, I started digging deep into the Greek words for the action verbs in Phil. 4:8. I addressed the Greek words associated with the “Whatever is” statements in Phil 4:8. 

Finally, brethren, whatever is true (αληθη), whatever is honorable (σεμνα), whatever is right (δικαια),
whatever is pure (αγνα), whatever is lovely (προσφιλη),
whatever is of good repute(ευφημα), if there is any excellence (αρετη)
and if anything worthy of praise (επαινος), dwell on these things.

In this post I wanted to conclude with some reflections on overall themes.

English Word
Greek Word
Themes/other definitions
 ἀληθής (alēthḗs)
Without a lie
Honest,  not concealing, integrity, upright
σεμνός (semnós)
Faithful, honorable, clear conscience, sound
δίκαιος (díkaios)
Upright, innocent, holy, righteous
ἁγνός (hagnós)
Free of impurity
Blameless, innocent, clean
 προσφιλής (prosphilḗs)
Beloved, acceptable, pleasing,  companion, one who does what is good, kind, dear
Good Repute
εὔφημος (eúphēmos)
Good reputation
Praiseworthy, laudable, well-spoken of, respected,  “good rumor”
 ἀρετή (aretḗ)
Human virtue
“Highest good,” morality, ethical, merit, honor
Worthy of Praise
 ἔπαινος (épainos)
Worthy of praise, object of  praise/fame

Paul in this one verse, not one, two or three times but eight times calls Christians to think good thoughts, thoughts that are upright, blameless, good, noble and worthy of our time and praise. This could be thought of as almost Christian pop-psychology, long before the existence of pop-psychology. But it is not that, it is so much more. Ever since I was in Middle School I have reflected on this verse a lot. I did not realize the Greek definitions in middle school but I had a general understanding that I should dwell on thoughts that good and pure. Instead of focusing hours of time on video games, I wanted to serve at church and I wanted to study the Bible. Even today, this verse guides me in my daily action. Every day I can fill this brain of mine with pleasing, pure, positive, blameless, upright, righteous, God-given dreams, purposes and understandings or I can just choose to fill my brain with the troubles and understandings of this world. It is a choice I have to make. We are to evaluate all of our actions and thoughts according to the themes of this verse….”Am I thinking pure thoughts before I go to bed?” “When I am near that person I cannot stand to be around, do I think excellent and praise-worthy thoughts then?” “I told my friend/wife/whoever about my day, did I tell that person the honest truth? Was I thinking it?”

Okay, (so how could I resist?) to get the full meaning across for the word ‘dwell,’ let’s look at the Greek word:

The Greek word for ‘dwell’ is λογίζομαι (logízomai). The word means to ‘reason,’ ‘reckon’ or ‘account’ for something. Honestly, this surprised me. I was guessing the word would meaning to ponder, reflect or contemplate but  Paul goes a step further than just ‘consider closely’ or ‘to ponder’ (which would be κατανοέω). Instead Paul says to ‘put this as reason’ or ‘put this together!’ Or to ‘let this occupy your brain!’ Another way of saying this is ‘count this as important because you will be held accountable to this!’ (Zodhiates, 2000). These are some strong words, it is not a happy-go-lucky journal or reflection but a lifestyle that must be lived out. Now go and dwell on these types of things.

Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s