Do Not Be Anxious About Anything (Philippians 4:6)

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By Thomas Moore

in Philippians — Big Greek Idea Series

4:6a    
μεριμνᾶτε: The Greek word μεριμνᾶτε is a second plural present active imperative from the verb μεριμνάω that means, “I am anxious, am unduly concerned” (BDAG, s.v. “μεριμνάω” 1, p. 632). Syntactically, μεριμνᾶτε functions as the main verb in the independent clause. Semantically, the present tense functions as a customary present, denoting continuing action or an ongoing state. In exhortations, it has gnomic implications (see W, 525). As a timeless principle, they are to be anxious about nothing. The imperative mood is used in a simple command. Paul used this same verb in 2:20 in the positive sense of Timothy being genuinely “concerned” about them. Believers are to be positively concerned for others, but not unduly anxious about anything. The command echoes the tradition of Jesus’s words in Matthew 6:25–34; 10:19.

4:6b     
τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ δεήσει … τὰ αἰτήματα: The datives are datives of means. Paul uses three terms for prayer: προσευχῇ (BDAG, s.v. “προσευχή” 1, p. 878; TDNT 2:807–8; NIDNTTE 2:336–43), and δεήσει (BDAG, s.v. “δέησις,” p. 213; TDNT 2:40–41; NIDNTTE 1:667–69) are basically synonymous. We should not make fine distinctions between them (M&H, 245–46). Both express how believers let their requests be made known to God—by means of prayer and petition. The third term, αἰτήματα (BDAG, s.v. “αἴτημα,” p. 30; TDNT 1:193; NIDNTTE 1:185–89), is narrower, denoting the specific items asked for.

μετὰ εὐχαριστίας: To accompany prayer and petition, Paul adds “with thanksgiving.” Εὐχαριστία can refer both to the attitude of thankfulness and to the expression of thanks (BDAG, s.v. “εὐχαριστία” 1, 2, p. 416). Paul certainly means that when they pray, the Philippians should pray with a grateful attitude. He probably also means they should verbalize thanks to God. Thanksgiving should accompany all prayers, petitions, and requests (cf. 1 Thess. 5:18). By being thankful, believers acknowledge God’s goodness and provision even as they pour out their needs and concerns to him. Without thanksgiving, prayer can degenerate into complaining (Hansen, 291) or to merely presenting God with a list of demands. With thanksgiving, prayer becomes a means of appreciating, honoring, and glorifying God.

γνωριζέσθω: The Greek word γνωριζέσθω is a third singular present passive imperative from the verb γνωρίζω that means, “I make known, reveal” (BDAG, s.v. “γνωρίζω” 1, p. 203). Syntactically, γνωριζέσθω functions as the main verb in the independent clause. Semantically, the present tense functions as a customary present, denoting continuing action or an ongoing state. In exhortations, it has gnomic implications (see W, 525). As a timeless principle, they are to continue to let their requests be made known to God. The imperative is used as a simple command.


This post is adapted from Philippians by Thomas S. Moore. If you are interested in adopting this book for a college or seminary course, please request a faculty examination copy. We will also consider requests for your blog or media outlets.

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About Author

Thomas S. Moore was a pastor for fifteen years and served as an adjunct professor for Columbia International University, Luther Rice University, and Bryan College. Currently he is Pastor of South Asia at Fellowship Church, Knoxville and president of Didache, Inc., which provides teaching for church planters and pastors in South Asia. He is the author of a number of biblical studies.

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