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What is the [Real] Meaning of Philippians 4:8 NIV & KJV? (Deep Dive)

September 08, 2021

Philippians 4:8 is a list of things that will transform the mind of a Christian. Human flesh and the whispers of Satan war against the mind but Paul has given solid instruction to the Philippians for winning the battle of the mind. In this article we will take a deep look into Philippians 4:8 to help you understand this scripture alot more clearly.

Table of Contents

1. Who wrote Philippians 4 and why?

The apostle Paul wrote Philippians 4 to the body of believers at Philippi. He sent encouraging words and instruction for living a life with peace and contentment.

2. What is going on in Philippians 4:8?

Paul was wrapping up the final thoughts he wanted to share with the Philippian church. He gives wise instruction for successful living in the faith.

3. What does Philippians 4:8-9 say?

Philippians 4:8-9 NIV (New International Version) says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Philippians 4:8-9 KJV (King James Version) says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

There is a slight difference in the above two scriptures read in two different translations. I will give a more detail on the differences in wording below.

4. What is the main message of Philippians 4:8?

The main message of Philippians 4:8 is to transform one’s thinking in order to have peace of mind. He was able to speak from personal experience.

When Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, he was in prison in Rome. He had written to them and showed them, through his personal example and testimony, that it was possible to make it through any situation with the right attitude.

Paul faced many hardships as a Christian but allowed the Spirit of God to give him strength in his continual walk with the Lord. His instructions were things he had already been practicing himself and was able to share with others, knowing the effectiveness and success of such living.

5. What is the meaning of Philippians 4:8 NIV?

The meaning of Philippians 4:8 is a guideline for continual growth and transformation in the life of a Christian. Refusing to dwell on negativity and intentionally focusing on positivity are ingredients God uses to allow peace to grow and turmoil to dwindle.

I wrote an extensive deep dive into the Fruit of the spirit and it's true meaning here.

5.1 What does “whatever is true” mean?

“Whatever is true” is referring to true sincerity, honesty and truthfulness.

John 17:17 compliments this thought beautifully: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

5.2 What does “whatever is noble” mean?

“Whatever is noble” refers to what is honorable, esteemed and revered in a person’s character.

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17

“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown…” Proverbs 12:2

5.3 What does “whatever is right” mean?

“Whatever is right” means the things that are honest and righteous.

All of the thoughts Paul tells the Philippians to think about relate to the attributes of God, which are all steeped in rightness. Acknowledging and revering the things pertaining to Him, including those things seen in others, are keys to our spiritual needs being met.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

5.4 What does “whatever is pure, lovely” mean?

“Whatever is pure and lovely” are those things that are incorrupt, opposite of any filthiness, and pleasing, attracting the souls of those who live holy. Those who allow the Spirit of God to influence their hearts will take on the attributes of God, loving what He loves and despising what He despises.

When the Spirit is active in the life of a believer, non-tangible things become the focus. The relationships of God with man, and man with man, are of extreme importance to God.

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” 1 Peter 1:22    

5.5 What does ‘whatever is admirable’ mean?

“Whatever is admirable” means actions that are commendable. This includes respect, kindness, and graciousness.

Because of the way she conducts herself, the woman described in Proverbs 31 (verses 10-31) is admirable. Kindness is her nature, freely distributing respect, care, and diligence for every situation.

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:” Proverbs 31:28

5.6 What is excellent in the Bible?  

Excellence in the Bible is first shown from the perfect Creator, who is the ultimate example of excellence. It is His example and attributes that set the gauge for what Christians should reach for in their own lives.

5.7 What is praiseworthy in the Bible?

What is praiseworthy in the Bible are things that are pure, incorrupt, spiritually pleasing and worthy of admiration. All that is praiseworthy align with the attributes and involvement of God.

God is the only Being that is worthy to be praised. His love, compassion, salvation, power and Word are all things that are praiseworthy.

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm 103:8

“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Psalm 34:1

If you want to read deep dive into Psalm 23, click here.

5.8 What does “think on these things” mean?

“Think on these things” means to meditate on all of the above-mentioned traits, allowing them to influence the conduct of a Christian.

Contemplating positive thoughts and resisting negative things in the mind are doable, according to the writings of Paul. The Christian does not have to succumb to negativity and fear.

6. What does Philippians 4:8 KJV mean?

Philippians 4:8 in the King James Version is worded slightly differently from the New International Version. The King James Version is written at a higher school grade level, while the New International Version is easier to understand for young adults.

6.1 What does “whatsoever things are true” mean?

“Whatsoever things are true” means an instinctive closeness to the original truth of God. Truth was exemplified in Jesus Christ through His earthly ministry.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

6.2 What does “whatsoever things are honest” mean?

“Whatsoever things are honest” is talking about reverence and respect for the things that are worthy of such esteem.

Those that are worthy of honor include some in society and those who practice honest business dealings. Most importantly, this included Christians showing respect to those who co-exist peacefully with God’s people, not causing a hinderance with God’s law.

“He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” 1 Timothy 3:7

6.3 What does “whatsoever things are just” mean?

“Whatsoever things are just” is referring to man’s relationship with others, dealing fairly with them in business. God cares about the impression others have when interacting with Christians.

The character of Christians shows an example to all others, whether that character is good or bad. The desire of God is that “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

6.4 What does “whatsoever is pure” mean?

“Whatsoever is pure” means to think on things that are unblemished and incorrupt. The thoughts and feelings a Christian should strive for is one of purity in the mind and with actions of the body.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

6.5 What does “whatsoever things are lovely” mean?

“Whatsoever things are lovely” refers to what is pleasing and precious. It means hearts that are holy are attracted to such things, and aim to have a pleasing character within, leaving a proper example of the Lord for others to be impacted by.

“so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,” Colossians 1:10

6.6 What does “whatsoever things are of good report” mean?

“Whatsoever things are of good report” speaks of an outward expression that others can see from the inner loveliness of a Christian’s heart. Things that are reputable and worthy of respect.

“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

6.7 What does “if there be any virtue” mean?

“If there be any virtue” refers to conforming one’s life and actions to pure and righteous life practices produced through obedience to God’s Word.

The King James Version of the Bible says in 2 Peter 1:5, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;”

The fruit of the Spirit produces virtue in the lives of believers. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

6.8 What does “if there be any praise” mean?

“If there be any praise” is referring to things that are done correctly but not for gaining personal glory for doing something well. It is a built-in quality that invites praise simply by being.

A person may look on the dedicated Christian who is fully consecrated and dedicated in service to the Lord. The main focus of praise for the Christian is on Jesus Christ and the works He does in the lives of believers.

6.9 What does “think on these things” mean?

“Think on these things” means to give careful consideration to the subjects you are focusing on. To dwell on the mentioned topics is to additionally encourage Christians to allow a spiritual transformation to take place as they practice them.

Christians need to dwell on the list of things to think about shared above. Transformation is essential in the life of every successful Christian.

Salvation is meant to change Christians and save them from the things that want to hold them in bondage.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

7. What is the lesson of Philippians 4:8?

The lesson of Philippians 4:8 is to study and dwell on the things Paul mentioned in order to guard our hearts by focusing on things that are pleasing to God. Christians must do their part in shifting what they are thinking about, and God will do His part by giving the power and strength to experience a transformation.

All that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable can be found in God Himself. His attributes can be found in many people and the handling of many situations throughout the world.

Dwelling on the positive things Paul mentioned also indirectly commands that Christians minimize the negativity allowed to enter their minds.

8. How can I practice and apply Philippians 4:8 in my life?

Christians can practice and apply Philippians 4:8 in several ways.

Along with disciplining the mind by turning the focus on the things Paul says to think about, part of that practice includes turning away from focusing on other things. Applying what is mentioned in Philippians 4:8 to a Christian’s life also means removing other things.

A believer can ask himself questions to increase his spiritual growth. With his lifestyle and personal activities, every man should ask himself these questions:

Is this activity sinful? Does this activity cause me to have sinful thoughts that are not pleasing to God?

Such activities can be the types of material a person reads, the types of movies and TV shows he watches, the music choices he listens to. A good example that helps to understand sinful things is found in Romans 1:29-31:

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

The list of wickedness does not only address those who are committing the acts, but also those who accept those actions through others who do them.

Removing books, magazines, movies, TV shows, music, environments, and toxic friendships that are contrary to the ways of God is the second part of applying Philippians 4:8 to the Christian’s life.

The application includes a swap of what is allowed to enter a believer’s mind. Uplifting, pure, and decent entertainment that is acceptable to God will help the process of transformation in a Christian’s mind.

Additionally, and most importantly, applying the practice of reading the Word of God, talking to Him in prayer, developing an attitude of repentance and gratitude, attending church, and letting the preached Word minister to a person will impact the life of a believer greatly.

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