Philippians 4.1-9. Anxiety

Research shows that the human mind is more attuned to take notice of bad news than good news and our culture uses this tuning to motivate us, discipline us and entertain us.

In Philippians 4, Paul writes about peace while he is chained in a Roman prison facing possible execution (chapter 1) and yet his writing is full of joy. Here are Paul’s practical steps for developing a life that is resilient to anxiety. [Notes | Audio]

Michael Flynn


Philippians 4

For further thought

Philippians 4.1-9 | Anxiety

Relationships (1-4)

  • Deal directly with conflict in relationships between believers by rejoicing in God’s presence, being gentle, knowing the Lord is always near to believers.

Q: What kinds of relationship conflicts is this teaching designed for? 

Q: What kinds of relationship conflicts is this teaching not for? 

Q: What other Biblical resources can you think of that deal with different kinds of relationship conflicts?

Q: Why are we taught to act quickly and openly?

Circumstances (6-7)

  • The image here is of ongoing warfare in our circumstances. The peace that guards hearts and minds (v7) is a military guard because our circumstances will have plenty of ammunition to make us anxious. 

Q: Like Psalm 46:10 ‘Be still and know that I am God’, the peace Paul describes is peace in the middle of war not peace from war. How does this compare with our culture’s ideas on how we are to deal with anxiety and obtain a measure of peace?

Q: Paul has a strong expectation of God’s immediate presence in the believer’s daily life (v5, 6). How can we follow his teaching to practice the presence of God?

Q: What has been your experience of the peace that passes all understanding?

Thoughts (8)

  • Paul lists classic virtues we are to work to identify in the world around us. These ‘whatever is…’ virtues are signs of God at work in everyday life. It is a very big view of God at work in a world that may or may not acknowledge him.

Q: How do we inhibit our ability to see the good God is doing around us?

Q: How can we train our thoughts (Romans 12.1) to see God’s work in the world and to live more thankful lives?

Q: The word translated ‘excellent’ can mean ‘your true self’. How does focusing on virtue help us to become more our true selves?

Behaviour (9)

  • As ever in the Bible, we do not simply believe, pray and think we also act. It is in the acting that Paul teaches: ‘…the God of peace will be with you.’

Q: What things has Paul taught the Philippians and us to do in dealing with our lack of peace?

Q: Why does God being with us change the anxious things we face?