Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure…
The words are the parting counsel of the apostle. They come at the most solemn period of his life, and he was writing to the best-loved of the churches. Will he speak of the mysteries he saw and heard? Will he expound some profound doctrine? It is almost with a feeling of disappointment that we find these homely words.
I. Observe THE ENTIRENESS OF THE APOSTLE'S LANGUAGE. "Whatsoever things." It has sometimes been supposed that different regions of goodness might be separated from each other; religion from morality; truth from beauty. Paul recognizes no such distinction. He who furthers one truth incidentally furthers all others.
II. Note how ALL THE REGIONS OF GOODNESS FIT INTO EACH OTHER. Paul, trained in Greek learning, would be familiar with the classical debates respecting the true, the beautiful, and the good. The Greek asserted that the supreme object of pursuit was the beautiful. His soul was so enwrapt in sensuous beauty, that he could recognize the good only in it. The highest object of admiration to the Roman was what was just. So some think now that the highest good is only to be found in truth, scientific facts; others in the noble and self-denying; in the romantic aspect of things. Paul discourages no forms of goodness, and would welcome it whether in myth, legend, song, art, nature, domestic life.
III. THE TRUE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER CONSISTS NOT IN THE MERE ABSENCE OF EVIL BUT IN THE POSSESSION AND CULTIVATION OF THE GOOD. So dwell on "these things" as to make them your own. Your soul was made for them, and in nothing lower can it be happy. Only by thinking on them can their opposites be cast out. Darkness is only to be expelled by light, impurity by holiness, the love of sin by the love of God — in individuals or communities.
(R. M. Stewart.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.