By Pastor Wayne Clapp
There is an interesting command near the end of Philippians:
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4 KJV
These are the ninth and tenth uses of “rejoice” in Philippians.
Although it says, “again I say, rejoice,” the word “say” is in the future tense. Many translations read “I will say it again.” That’s how it reads in the Greek: “rejoice in the Lord, and I will say again, rejoice.”
That’s emphatic. Rejoice, and I’m going to say it again, rejoice!
That establishes it. So, do it.
Where Does Joy Come From?
For Paul, joy was bound up with salvation and the relationship he enjoyed with God. It wasn’t based upon how things were going in his life and ministry because if that was the case, in the latter part of his ministry, he would have never been joyful.
He was in prison. He had blown it. He had made mistakes, but he still had tremendous joy because God still worked with him.
He still had opportunities to move the Word. He still had fellow laborers.
God still opened doors of utterance for him, and he was able to do it, but Paul’s joy was bound up with his salvation, the relationship he enjoyed with God, and exercising his ministry.
In verses 4-7, Paul really keys on stress-free living. Everybody’s going to have pressure. We can have pressure, but we don’t have to have stress. When pressure has a negative effect on us, it becomes stress.
Pressure can be a good thing. Pressure can make us better. Pressure can make us focus.
Pressure can bring out the best in us. It’s that way in sports and the performing arts. The first key to stress-free living is to rejoice in the Lord.
A Song of Triumph
Philippians 4:4 is an example of the figure of speech paenaimos. It’s from the Greek word “paen,” which means “physician,” and “nismos,” which is a chant.
The chanting of the paen was originally used of a physician because he was the one who fixed things. Later, it was used of anybody who fixed things like a savior or a deliverer, and over time, it became used of the song extolling that savior or deliverer.
- W. Bullinger says that it was used of any solemn song of triumph. He continues to say, “so that the figure consists of a calling on others to rejoice over something instead of merely stating the thing as a matter of fact, thus emphasizing and calling attention to it.”
Paul just doesn’t say, “Okay, I said it four or five times now, but I’m going to say it again – rejoice.” He’s calling on others to rejoice, too.
What Do We Rejoice About?
That “something” being rejoiced over is what Paul has just mentioned. What’s the big deal here?
Well, he just said our names were written in the Book of Life. That’s what we can rejoice about. That’s what we have the right to sing about.
It’s also rejoicing in the gladiatorial battle that’s been won…how the true yokefellow will help Euodia and Syntyche to get it together again.
“Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” Philippians 4:1-3 NKJV
These were not just songs of triumph. They were war cries or battle songs. They were sung before going out.
We usually sing Philippians 4:4 as a round. We ought to also do it as a battle cry, a war song. As such, it should be sung before and after the victory.
Image courtesy of PxHere
It’s a song of rejoicing, and I believe it’s in celebration of the gladiatorial contest he just talked about – how he’s rejoicing in the fact that, “Hey, Clement and Euodias and Syntche were with me. We fought the good fight in the arena. We had each other’s back. Yokefellow, get in there and fix this problem that they have. Hey! Our names are written in the Book of Life.”
And then Paul breaks into this chorus, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice.”
How unique that we sing that as a song! In my mind, it’s just so cool because that’s what it is.
It’s a war cry. It’s a battle song, and it could be sung going into battle, and it can be sung after the battle is over, in rejoicing.
So that’s what God had planned here. “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again we will say…”
We could sing it in rounds. We should not stop singing it. We can just go over and over and over again. We can take different parts. That’s what a battle song is.
Let’s sing it together in victory.
Wayne Clapp and his wife Ferne live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, near their second daughter, Marlene, and her children: two of whom have given them great-grand babies!
To continue diving into the topic of joy and rejoicing, read Will You Choose Joy or Choose Regret?