3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
3:21 who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself.
4:1 Wherefore, my brethren beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my beloved. (ASV)
In chapter 3, Paul had just finished talking about the resurrection and our “citizenship in heaven.” That’s the context of this verse. Considering that the outcome of our faith is a resurrected body in the likeness of Christ’s glorious body, and that our true home is in the glorious presence of God in Heaven, we are to “stand fast in the Lord.”
What I want to point out first, is the fact that since we are instructed to “stand fast in the Lord,” that it’s possible not to stand fast in the Lord. Throughout Paul’s writings, he makes it clear that it’s possible to slide in our faith, even to the point of forfeiture of our salvation.
That occurs when we do not “stand fast in the Lord.” That occurs when we do not keep our eyes on Christ and on eternity in Heaven that we will enjoy with Him. I can’t overemphasize how important it is to stay in the Word of God, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Ro 10:13). If we don’t stay in the Word where faith can be cultivated and grow, it’s likely that our faith will weaken, and how far our faith weakens will vary from person to person, and what we’re involved in.
To “stand fast in the Lord,” means to be firmly fixed in the Lord. We’re to stand so firmly planted in Christ, that nothing in life will move us from our walk and relationship with Christ. The roots of our faith are to extend so deeply, that we’ll not be uprooted and blown all over the place by neither false doctrine, nor by the false ways and pleasures of this world. Both of these things will lead us astray from the firm foundation that we have in Jesus.
We remain secure in Christ as long as our faith remains firmly fixed. Our relationship with God must be cultivated….day by day. It needs to be the top priority in our life. No matter what we have going on in our life, our walk with Christ needs to be given the greatest amount of attention.
I think one area of danger is in college, not only in secular college where Christianity will be ridiculed and our faith challenged, but also in Christian colleges, where we can get too busy with our studies. College studies compete with the study of God’s Word. I’ve observed that Christians can get so busy in their studies, trying to get good grades and graduate, that their time in the Word of God suffers. Thus, their walk with God suffers. We can’t allow anything in life to get us side-tracked from the Christian path of life. We must cling to it for dear life, for it is our life.
“my joy and crown”
The Philippians were Paul’s joy, for it was through his ministry that they had come to faith in Christ. It was through the message that he proclaimed that the church of Philippi had been established. They had grown spiritually under his teaching (Phil 2:12).
They were also his “crown.” A crown can refer to either a position of authority, or to a reward, as in “a crown of achievement” (1 Cor 9:25; 2 Ti 4:8; Ja 1:12; 1 Pet 5:4). Though Paul had authority as an Apostle, I believe it’s in the sense of reward that he uses this term “crown.” Their faithfulness to Christ was his reward for his labor among them.
Of course, Paul also may have had in mind the eternal reward that awaited him that was gained for his faithful service to the Lord, through them. But in this context, I believe he was primarily referring to the fruit of his labor among them.