Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
True . . . honest (better, venerable; see margin).–Truth is the inherent likeness to God, who is Truth. Whatever is true in itself is also “venerable”–i.e., as the original word, usually rendered “grave” (as in 1Timothy 3:8; 1Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:2) etymologically signifies, it claims a share of the reverence due primarily to God; it has in it a certain majesty commanding worship.
Just . . . pure.–“Just” is (as St. Paul’s habitual usage of “justify” shows) righteous in act and word, as tested by the declared will of man or God. “Pure” is righteous in essence, in the thought, which cannot be thus tested–showing itself in what is just and indeed perfected thereby, but in itself something holier still.
Lovely . . . of good report.–Both words are peculiar to this passage: in both we pass from truth and righteousness to love. “Lovely” is that which deserves love. The phrase “of good report” represents a Greek word which is commonly used for “fair-sounding,” or “auspicious” and “acceptable.” It is therefore the outward expression of what is “lovely,” winning the acceptance which loveliness deserves.
Verse 8. – Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true. He repeats the “finally” of Philippians 2:1, He again and again prepares to close his Epistle, but cannot at once bid farewell to his beloved Philippians. He urges them to fill their thoughts with things good and holy. Christ is the Truth: all that is true comes from him; the false, the vain, is of the earth, earthy. Perhaps the verb (ἐστίν) may be emphatic. Sceptics may deny the existence of absolute truth; men may scoffingly ask, “What is truth?” Truth is real, and it is found in Christ, the Truth. Whatsoever things are honest. The word (σεμνά) occurs only here and four times in the pastoral Epistles. It is a word difficult translate. “Honourable” or” reverend” (the renderings of the R.V.) are better equivalents than “honest.” It points to a Christian decorum, a Christian self-respect, which is quite consistent with true humility, for it is a reverence for the temple of God. Whatsoever things are just; rather, perhaps, righteous, in the widest meaning. Whatsoever things are pure; not only chaste, but free from stain or defilement of any sort. The word used here (ἁγνός) is not common in the New Testament. The adverb occurs in Philippians 1:16, where it is rendered “sincerely,” and implies purity of motive. Whatsoever things are lovely (προσφιλῆ); not beautiful, but pleasing, lovable; whatsoever things would attract the love of holy souls. Whatsoever things are of good report. The word (εὔφημα) means “well-speaking” (not “well spoken of”), and so “gracious,” “attractive;” in classical Greek it means “auspicious,” “of good omen.” Of these six heads, the first two describe the subjects of devout thought as they are in themselves; the second pair relate to practical life; the third pair to the moral approbation which the contemplation of a holy life excites in good men. If there be any virtue. This word, so very common in the Greek moralists, occurs nowhere else in St. Paul. Nor does any other of the New Testament writers use it except St. Peter (l Peter 2:9 (in the Greek); 2 Peter 1:3, 5). Bishop Lightfoot says, “The strangeness of the word, combined with the change of expression, εἴ τις, will suggest another explanation: ‘Whatever value may reside in your old heathen conception of virtue, whatever consideration is due to the praise of men; ‘ as if the apostle were anxious not to omit any possible ground of appeal.” And if there be any praise; comp. Romans 12:17 and 2 Corinthians 8:21, where St. Paul bids us “provide for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” Nevertheless, in the highest point of view, the praise of the true Israelite is not of man, but of God. Think on these things; or, as in the margin of R.V., take account of. Let these be the considerations which guide your thoughts and direct your motives. The apostle implies that we have the power of governing our thoughts, and so are responsible for them. If the thoughts are ordered well, the outward life will follow.