And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
We all need something to keep our hearts. The changes of the world affect not only our homes and outward comforts, but our inmost souls. And more, our hearts are naturally restless. The result is that even in a calm our minds are shifting. It is plain we need something to steady us. Where shall we find it? Plainly not in this world; as well seek it in the hurricane. Not in ourselves, there there is only misery. The text shows us the blessing that we need.
I. ITS NATURE. Not self-denial, exertion, or watchfulness, but peace; enjoyment and repose in enjoyment. A calm which not only quiets the soul amid the tumult of the storm, but keeps it quiet. But "there is no peace to the wicked." They are like "a troubled sea when it cannot rest." This peace is the result of a change in man's state and character; the effect of a reconciliation between him and heaven. When this transpires man can look on God as his Friend, expect victory in temptation, a refuge in perils, strength in weakness, comfort in affliction, safety in death, heaven, and, in heaven, God.
II. ITS AUTHOR — God.
1. The work of saving mercy on which it rests is only His. He provides mercy and induces its acceptance.
2. He communicates that peace which flows from a sense of pardon. This is not the result of reasoning or self-examination, it is the gift of that God who fills us "with all joy and peace in believing."
III. ONE OF ITS PROPERTIES. A peace thus Divine in its origin must partake in some degree of the lofty nature of its Author, and in that degree must be incomprehensible.
1. It passes the understanding of those who are strangers to it. They who have not experienced it can know nothing of its character. Not that it is visionary or enthusiastic — nothing can be so rational and real; there is no other that will bear any serious reflection at all. And this peculiarity is not confined to this or any other spiritual blessing. The man of intellect may talk of the delight he experiences in the acquisition of knowledge, but his words convey no distinct idea to his ignorant neighbour. Tell a deaf man of the harmonies of music, or a blind man of the beauty of the world!
2. Those who enjoy it most cannot fully comprehend it. They are sensible of it, and find their hearts quieted and purified by it; but how did it come into the heart? Why is it at times so unspeakably sweet and strong? All they can say is, it "passeth understanding," and perhaps an inhabitant of heaven cannot say more. We may all, however, comprehend its effects.
IV. ONE OF THESE EFFECTS.
1. It keeps the heart.
(1) In temptation by satisfying it. It triumphs over the pleasures of sense by communicating higher pleasures.
(2) In affliction. It is a pledge of the special love of God to the soul, and as such it begets confidence in Him. Let a worldly man lose his earthly comforts and he has lost all; but let a man of God lose what he may his chief treasure is safe.
2. It keeps the mind.
(1) It settles the judgment, and informs and elevates the understanding by showing it, in the light of spiritual blessedness, the measure and poverty of all temporal good.
(2) It keeps the mind from folly, new and strange notions, sceptical doubt and error. The man who has it has "the witness in himself." Tell him that the Bible is not true, his religion a fable! You might as well tell him in the broad light of day that there is no sun.
V. ITS SOURCE AND INSTRUMENTALITY. The apostle had been inculcating freedom from anxiety and care; but lest the Philippians should seek in this the fountain of their peace he here adds "in Christ Jesus." This peace has God for its author and giver, but it flows, to us through His Son.
1. It is one of the blessed fruits of His obedience, sufferings, and intercession.
2. It dwells also in Him as the head of the Church, the royal treasury of all precious gifts.
3. It is dispersed by Him through the agency of the Spirit.
(C. Bradley, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.