“Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!” (Php 4:1)
Without a doubt Paul loved the church at Philippi and they loved him. Time and time again they supported him materially and with people. Several from the church there — Epaphroditus, Eudoia and Syntche were on ministry missions with him. It was a special congregation. And Paul was unabashed in his love for them, “longing” for them (1:8) and loving them. His care for them superseded his present prison distress and possible execution. Their faith was what mattered more and their standing firm was of bigger issue.
Paul referred to them as his “crown.” There are two types of “crowns” in Scripture. The first is the diadem which is the crown of a ruler or a king. the second crown is the stephanos crown which is the crown they gave to those who won an important competition or race. The second type is the one used here. Paul is saying that if they stand firm to the end, he will receive the victory, knowing that he “did not run or labor for nothing” (2:16). Their faithfulness and joy was his stephanos crown.
Then Paul says, “that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!”
Or more literally in Greek, ‘thus you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends.”
The “thus” is important. Because the standing firm is the picture of a soldier on a battle field whose instincts tell him in every way to run, but he stands firm. And with false teachers out there (3:2) and those who are opposed to the cross of Christ (3:18), there are many temptations not to stand firm but to be swayed by others.
“Thus” you should stand firm.
So what is the “thus”? Is it a conclusion of chapter 3 that is to cling to Christ and run the race God has called us, walking in maturity? Is it an intro to chapter 4 which is to be united, joyful, and thankful? Or is it a bridge of both?
After studying I’m not sure. It could go either way. It really doesn’t matter. What’s important is….all of it. Standing firm in Christ is about pursuing Jesus and walking in maturity, be careful to not be swayed by false teachers. Standing firm too is about relying on one another, thinking on the things that are of God, and being thankful. These latter pursuits are unsung heroes of standing firm.
But the point is this: Stand firm. Paul loved them. They brought him much joy. And their faithfulness was his highest honor. The Philippians must have felt very encouraged at this point. And even loved. It’s not wonder they were eager to remain true to the gospel as well as to their faithful leader and friend.