This post is a continuation of my series examining the Greek words associated with the “Whatever is” statements in Phil 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Today I examine the Greek word for lovely which is προσφιλής (prosphilḗs).
The root, phíléō, is the word for ‘friendship.’ Go another step back to phílos and you have one of the four Greek words for the English word ‘love’. The general overview is quite simple, it means “acceptable or pleasing” (Zodhiates, 2000). Interestingly this particular form of phíléō, prosphilḗs, only appears once in the New Testament, right here in Phil. 4:8.
There have been and will be many studies on phíléō and phílos. Digging a little deeper on the words of phíléō and phílos, may be worth the adventure to get a better understanding of what Paul is talking about with prosphilḗs. The idea is “beloved” (Zodhiates, 2000), a “companion” (Vine, 1996), “dear/found friend” (Strong, 2009), a “kind friend (Thomas, 1998)” or “one who practices what is good” (Zodhiates, 2000).
How do we live that out? Think lovely thoughts. Have a mind that is innocent. Dwell on lovely thoughts. Dwell on the Word of God. Dwell on Christian fellowship and friendship. Have a Christian social support, small group of friends, etc. Live out love. Paul is saying that we need to love people. We need to befriend people. Be winsome, be pleasant, be kind, be loving! We should make an effort to be amiable and lovable (Loh & Nida, 1995).
Loh, I., & Nida, E. A. (1995). A handbook on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. UBS Handbook Series (134). New York: United Bible Societies
Strong, J. (2009). Vol. 1: A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (76). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : Updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.
Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vol. 2: Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (256). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.
Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.