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
(transliteration)
Definition
Themes/other definitions
True
 ἀληθής (alēthḗs)
Without a lie
Honest,  not concealing, integrity, upright
Honorable
σεμνός (semnós)
Dignified
Faithful, honorable, clear conscience, sound
Right
δίκαιος (díkaios)
Right/Just
Upright, innocent, holy, righteous
Pure
ἁγνός (hagnós)
Free of impurity
Blameless, innocent, clean
Lovely
 προσφιλής (prosphilḗs)
Friendship/love
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”
Excellent
 ἀρετή (aretḗ)
Human virtue
“Highest good,” morality, ethical, merit, honor
Worthy of Praise
 ἔπαινος (épainos)
Commendation
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.

Whatever is Praise-Worthy

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 “worthy of praise” which is ἔπαινος (épainos).


This word has two definitions. The first is a noun for “the object of praise” and the second definition is “something praiseworthy” (Zodhiates, 2000). Another word for it is ‘commendation’ (Swanson, 1997).

ἔπαινος appears 11 (once as ‘fame’ and 10 times as ‘praise’) times in the NASB:
Romans 2:29 –
But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
1 Corinthians 4:5 –
Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
2 Corinthians 8:18-
We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches;
Philippians 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.
Romans 13:3-
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;
Ephesians 1:6-
to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
Ephesians 1:12-
to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 1:14-
who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Philippians 1:11-
having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
1 Peter 1:7-
so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
1 Peter 2:14-
or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.

Paul and Peter are the only authors who used this word in the New Testament. As you can read there is an interesting variety for how the word is used it can be praise given by men to other men (1 Pt. 2:14).  It can be praise to men from God (Rom. 2:29). It can be praise given to God by men (Eph. 1:6).
Then in an altogether different meaning or definition it is used in our verse (Phil 4:8) meaning ‘a thing worthy praise’ (Arndt, 2000).

                                                                 References:

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (357). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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

Whatever is Excellent

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 “excellence” which is ἀρετή (aretḗ). 

The general definition is “human virtue” (Zodhiates, 2000). The English definition for virtue is ‘morality’ or ‘conformity to a standard of right living’ (Merriam-Webster, 2003).

The Greek word is used 5 times in four verses (Phil. 4:8, 1 Pt. 2:9, 2 Pt. 1:3, 5). This word is used outside of the New Testament more often. It frequently indicated “the highest good,” for both secularists and religious people alike (Silva & Tenney, 2009). So in a secular sense it meant ‘merit’ and ‘honor.’ While for Paul and Peter, it meant ‘excellence in character’ (Logos, 2011).

The theme that Paul has established in this verse earlier continues…..for living with uprightness and blamelessness. He is saying to think excellent thoughts. Dwell on virtuous thoughts. Live in a virtuous manner.

                                                             References:

Logos Bible Software. (2011). The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. Seattle, WA: Author.

Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Silva, M., & Tenney, M. C. (2009). The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 5, Q-Z (Revised, Full-Color Edition) (1032). Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corporation.

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

Whatever is of Good Repute

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 “good repute” which is εὔφημος (eúphēmos).
It means that something or someone has a good reputation, they are well–spoken of, of literally a “good report”, praiseworthy, laudable and/or well acclaimed (Zodhiates, 2000).

Like with the Greek word for lovely which is προσφιλής (prosphilḗs), this Greek Word only appears once in the New Testament, right here in Phil. 4:8 by the Apostle Paul. I also found it interesting that Paul took the word for ‘good’ (eú) and combined it or compounded it with the word for ‘rumor’ (or better in this case ‘fame’) which is phḗmē (Zodhiates, 2000). It is not often that you ever hear of a “good rumor” but in this case it is having good PR spread about someone. They have a good report or good fame known about them. these types of people do everything they can with integrity and attempt to do everything correct and their record speaks for it.

Think thoughts that are good. Dwell on things that are of good repute. Focus on the positives and blessings in life. Find people in your life that have a commendable reputation. Feed on their knowledge and model how they live.Try to live with a good reputation. This person is honorable. When you think of this kind of person, you think of only good things, there is nothing bad to take away from the good (Loh & Nida, 1995). This person is not likely going to easily or intentionally offend other people.   If we take nothing else from the overall theme, we have to continue to see that this fits in with all of these characteristics Paul is challenging believers to be, which is upright and blameless. That is a noble challenge. But the calling continues.

                                                           References:

Loh, I., & Nida, E. A. (1995). A handbook on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. UBS Handbook Series (134). New York: United Bible Societies.

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

Whatever is Lovely

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).

                                                                      References:

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.



Whatever is Pure

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 pure which is ἁγνός (hagnós).
The general overview is quite simple, most commentaries and doctrinaires offer a straight-forward answer this word means “pure.” Digging into this particular context in Philippians, we can find some specifiers that are useful in understanding this Greek word in this verse.

First let us see what does “pure” mean exactly? Purity is “freedom from defilement or impurity.” I am certainly not a gemologist, but I understand enough about precious stones to know that purity and rareness of a gemstone determines how expensive it should be. The more pure and natural the stone, the better quality and higher price for that stone. This is not a bad analogy for our lives as Christians. We should also strive to have freedom from defilement and impurity (sin!).  Christ already paid the highest price for this freedom. Let’s live it out!

Diving deeper into “living pure,” we see that the words “Innocent”, “pure” and “blameless” (2 Cor. 7:11; Phil. 4:8; 1 Tim. 5:22) come into play (Zodhiates, 2000). This is not a coincidence, but the theme from all of the previous Greek Word Paul has chose in this passage continues again with hagnós. We are to live righteous, honest, with dignity and now again today holy. All of these words center around this idea of living upright and blameless. It is not an easy calling but one that we are free to choice with the power of the Holy Spirit guiding us and the blood of Jesus Chris saving us and the Father wooing us. 
Think pure thoughts. Dwell on thoughts that are pure. Find a mentor that is pure and can hold you accountable for personal purity and growth. Live pure. Let’s strive to be clean, innocent, modest, chaste as close to perfect as possible in this human form (Strong, 2009). The kind of purity “awakens awe” (Kittel, Friedrich & Bromiley, 1985). Ponder that one.
                                                            References:
Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (19). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
Strong, J. (2009). Vol. 1: A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (7). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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

Whatever is Right

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 right which is δίκαιος (díkaios).

Díkaios comes from díkē which means “right” or “just”. Díkaios specifically means “doing what is right” or “doing what is just.” Another way of saying this is being “conformable to righteousness.” (Zodhiates, 2000). This word appears 79 times in the New Testament, notably 17 times in Matthew, where it is used to describe both individuals and groups of people who live righteous. The Septuagint translation is צַדִּיק which means blameless, upright and righteous. It describes Noah, Abraham, David, Job and God. It also describes groups of people as well.

There continues a theme from the first two posts, the words “True,” “Honorable” both include an idea of upright living, a moral standard of being ‘above reproach.’ The word for “Right” continues this theme for living upright (Newman, 1993). As Christians we are called to be “innocent, holy, just and righteous” (Strong, 2009). This is not an easy calling. It is a calling to be in accordance with God’s standards (Swanson, 1997).

The How-to live δίκαιος out is worth a lot of time and further study. There are a lot of great resources about righteousness and righteous living. To get a full understanding of application of this word, much more study should be done on it. Case studies on the righteous men of the Old and New Testament is great place to start this study. Think about justice. Dwell on justice. Reflect on it. More so, live it out. When someone is in need, help them. When someone does something wrong, seek God’s wisdom in finding the proper just action that may need to be taken.

 
                                                                        References:
Newman, B. M., Jr. (1993). A Concise Greek-English dictionary of the New Testament. (46). Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies.
Strong, J. (2009). Vol. 1: A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (23). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament)
(electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.